CD packaging is one form of graphic design I really love (and is probably the expensive reason behind the fact I’ve never even touched itunes), but can easily fall into the range of conventionally dull. The plastic casing, I hate, and the feel and print of carboard instantly give a sense of quality. And then there are the visuals: in my opinion to often falling into the trends of A) uninspiringly plastering an image of the band or artist on the cover, as if they’re more important than the music (which, most of the time, they are) or B) trying to replicate obscure, abstract cover images that possibly reflect the abstract, ephemerality of music and the difficulty in translating it into visuals, but doing so in a watered-down, not-quite-conceptual enough way that just ends up looking pretentious.
Rant over, and this packagaing design, in contrast, is fantastic. Designed by Niklas Hessman (portfolio here), a student and designer in Sweden, this packaging was a concept for the band Vikunja, who have a well established band identity – a bold logo, and clear colour scheme, which is definitely worth checking out on their website. Integrating this identity into the packaging was really well done – the colours (although already established) work really well together, and the CD itself is espcecially striking. The inner fold of the casing has to be my favourite part – using the logo form as inspiration for the folding of the packaging works incredibly well. The concept behind the track listing, intended to be handwritten and varied with new recordings, is quite interesting, and plays with the convention of album releasing, and justifies the packaging’s focus on representing the band and their identity rather than an album theme, though I’m not sure how well it would work in terms of longevity (and considering my dislike of special edition, “let’s add a cover or two” album rereleases).
Definitely worth checking out his portfolio.
Beautifully illustrated, bold, spacial renditions of eye-catching but clichéd, questionably imaginative and wholly inaccurate stereotypes.
These cover illustrations for Wallpaper magazine, by Noma Bar (portfolio here), have me mentally contradicting myself, and feeling rather hypocritical for liking. I have to admit, aesthetically the set are fantastic, and I’d quite like to have a copy of each – and the indoor concept plays nicely with the bold, block-colour style, which could otherwise feel generic. And, as Noma Bar’s illustrative style is quite recognized for, the shapes and images play well together, creating some optical-illusion connoting merging of images that do exhibit Bar’s visual creativity (especially with the incorporation of 3D elements). Though, visually, they’re stunning, playful and imaginative, they do prove how much designers and illustrations rely on stereotypes; there’s no way these covers would be as striking without the dominance of over-used stereotypes, but (regardless of the 3D styles) do they do much to present anything other than these rather two-dimensional, stereotypical representations of the countries referenced? Then again, they are beautifully created, and, it could be argued, intentionally playful. But personally, I much prefer his other work, that showcase a huge amount of visual creativity and double-entendres, without relying on outdated stereotypes.
These posters by Minus18, Australia’s largest LGBT teen support network, intended to tackle different attitudes within the realm of homophobia. The message is bold, and communicated perfectly through the use of almost purely text. They challenge certain views perfectly (the idea of “flaunting it” I think is paticularly notable) and I really hope they get the kind of acknowledgement Stonewall’s “Some People Are Gay…” campaign had – as these are at least as powerful.
You can grab hold of these designs and more to print here.
It’s a campaign that’s more or less exploded on the internet (viral advertising done really well) with an incredibly powerful piece of film (the creative minds behind the film project have definitely done their job well.) Although there has been some criticism of Invisible Children, the charity behind the campaign, regarding how financially accountable they are, the wages of their leaders, and their true role and motives as a charity. Admittedly, the film (which can’t have been an inexpensive make) is so fantastically constructed that it may come across as exactly that – and the rather dominant role of Jason Russell within it comes across as a little vain and pompous. So maybe the charity itself isn’t as ethically transparent as charities should be, but maybe the charity isn’t what’s important, but the message (though whether the charity agree with that can be seen to be questionable). And communicating the message well is one of the key elements in any kind of campaign – and I have to say, though not quite as refined as some forms of advertising campaigns, the designs behind Kony 2012 do stick in the mind.
The logo, first off, is great. (The upside down triangle/hierarchy chart specifically), the communication of empowering the people a bold concept, and wonderfully executed and explained in the film. The following posters also have some conceptual merit – the historical reference to dictators, and the connotation of the current danger through the use of the red (though, stylistically, the clear Obama inspiration is maybe a little distracting from the concept, and could be considered attention-grabbing rather than anything else). The combination of party logos in the second piece is great (I believe the Republican and Democratic mascots – sorry for my British naivety if I’m wrong there!).
The video is definitely worth checking out, if you’ve managed to evade it so far. Either way, the message is clear, and good, and the campaign has done well to maintain that.
With quite minimal and clean work, simple typography with a clear helvetica-atmosphere, and limited colour schemes, at first glance of the design work of agency Kent Lyons, it’s difficult not to appreciate their clean, pleasing aesthetics, but equally easy to place their work within that corporate, minimal graphic design box. It’s fair to say, I wasn’t entirely sure I’d have a lot to say about their work, and it took some real consideration to really appreciate their portfolio for any sense of uniqueness. The first design that stood out to me was the branding of Film London – a stunning typographic, conceptual logo that I’d fallen in love with once. It’s always nice to find out the designer behind a piece of design I’d glanced at once, but recalling it inspired me to really look at their work in a more intellectual light – and I realised just how wonderfully conceptual a lot of their work is.
Two of my favourite typographic pieces within their portfolio are the “Rmeixes” CD-packaging (the clever typographic element of which is only emphasized by the pleasing, minimal aesthetic), and the “competitive edge” element in a London Innovation leaflet design, which utilizes the form perfectly to play with concept. The agency’s skill with packaging and book-making perfectly accompanies their conceptual and heavily typographic, minimal design work – creating some really interesting work that generic, minimal, corporate work.
Thank you to Emily (fantastic blog here) for introducing me to this great designer; Thomas Girault – whose CSS Award-winning portfolio website you should definitely check out here. His work is a mix of photography, digital illustration, bright colours, patterns and text – creating some stunning compositions and visuals that feel both incredibly abstract and modern, while at the same time quite retro and aged through the black and white photography and textured backgrounds. I would absolutely love to see some large prints of his work.
I have to admit this isn’t a logo that I was a fan of at first – generally, I’m not too keen on 3D-effects, or shine. But after considering it for a while, I have to say I’ve become rather fond of it. Paticularly, I think the change of materials has helped this – I think there’s a bit of a stigma attached to 3D, shiny logos regarding whether they’re just aesthetically embelished, without any conceptual merit. The variations from the shiny, metal look create a variety of interesting applications, both aesthetically and conceptually, in connoting different classes.
I’m not sure where this piece of foliage came from, but it’s a nice example of taking the branding into a 3D format, rather than just a digital, 3D-looking logo, emphasising the company’s state-of-the-art, beautifully design-led ethos and ambition.
The expansion of the branding into this custom-embelished font is also one of the winners for me. The font used as a basis for the embelished typeface, is Fresco Informal (Available here – though sadly the custom elements do not appear to be available) The elongated tails, added onto letters generally at the beginning and end of text used within their advertising, are not only aesthetically pleasing (on the upper-case A especially), but incorporates the feel of the corporate identity well, and connotes the beauty of design central to the company.
Fantastic article on the identity here.