Category Archives: RPArts

Camera Ready

It’s not often we get the chance to help a start up, but that’s exactly what we are doing for Film Columbia, the newest initiative of One Columbia For Arts and History.Unknown

As the city’s “unofficial” office of cultural affairs, One Columbia’s mission is to strengthen and unify the arts community with an ultimate goal of attracting more visitors to events and activities. They do this through a number of high profile projects like public art and the Cultural Passport. But, they haven’t stopped here.

The idea behind Film Columbia is to create a video library of art events and activities that groups can use to promote their own endeavors. It works like this: One Columbia hires emerging and established local filmmakers to shoot video of cultural events that take place in the city (most artists cannot afford to do this on their own). The filmmakers edit the footage into shorts videos that can be used to market various events, festivals, gallery openings, performances and lots of other happenings. Attendance goes up, artists are happy and Columbia is better known for its robust arts scene!

With several videos completed, it’s time to take the initiative to the next level. That’s where CreateAthon can help. One Columbia already has a good foundation from which to build—a strong visual identity, a great website and an even better digital newsletter. The challenge is carving out space for Film Columbia within the One Columbia brand and increasing awareness among local artists of the free service. CreateAthon deliverables will include positioning, marketing planning and collateral. With the right tools in place, Film Columbia will be ready for its big premiere!

Adventures in Printing

400 pounds of printing power

I recently became the proud owner of a beautiful new-to-me Risograph GR 3750 – pictured above in all of its beige glory. I know what you’re thinking: who in their right mind would actually spend money on what appears to be a piece of obsolete office technology? Although it appears to be an innocent copier – this machine can be pretty magical in the right hands. Risographs are not normal copiers, they are more like an automatic mimeograph, sort of the missing link between screen printing and offset. It works by scanning an image, which is burned into a wax paper ‘stencil’ that wraps around an ink-filled drum. Paper then passes beneath the drum and ink is pushed through the ‘stencil’ and onto the paper. The beauty of this process is that you can change out the drums to add more colors to your work. Similar to screen printing, you print one color at a time while layering colors to create art. While the printing is not perfect, it is possible to work within the constraints of the process to create beautiful results. Because of this the Risograph has seen a huge resurgence amongst designers, illustrators, and indie publishers in the last few years – it makes it extremely cheap to create large volumes of high quality printed materials.

2 color (purple & black) test prints

When the opportunity presented itself for me to buy one on the cheap I jumped at it. My friend and I drove up to Gastonia, NC to buy it from a pastor at a small church, who was very confused what two young guys were doing buying his old copier. After literally almost killing ourselves moving the 400 pound behemoth into my basement, we got to work on making it work. After a full day of tinkering with it, consulting ancient service manuals, and a healthy dose of cursing – it was working.

the back panel - not intimidating at all to work on...

The challenges presented when designing work to be printed on a 20 year old obsolete duplicator are numerous -the color palette is extremely limited (right now I only have purple and black), the registration is never perfect, the size is limited to 11×17. Although some would see these constraints as a hinderance to their creativity – I see them as an opportunity. Great design needs constraints to push against – you cannot break the rules if there are no rules. The challenge of producing great design is to push the limits just far enough to create unexpected results – whether its creating art on an old copier or designing a logo with a detailed creative brief – creativity thrives when it is has something to push against.

2 color print using overlays, notice the poor registration

By far my favorite part about having a Risograph in my basement is that it has inspired me to create work for the sole purpose of fun. No clients, no deadlines, no money, just the simple joy found in the act of making stuff. I encourage any creative person to take time out of their busy schedule to make stuff for no reason other than fun – it is a great way to recharge your creative juices and remind yourself why you started doing this stuff in the first place.

The risograph in its new home - makin' stuff

 

 

Métro Signage

The Métropolitain – Paris’ rapid transit metro system – has 245 different stations within 34 square miles of Paris, many of them exhibiting unique interiors that set them apart from the rest. I had the opportunity to witness this firsthand on a recent trip to Paris several weeks ago.

Abbesses – Its chipped tiled type contrasts well with these round yellow chairs that could have been pulled straight from a Herman Miller catalog.

Concorde – A 100+ year old stop with a grid of letters spelling out the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, a fundamental document of the French Revolution (wall of type=revolutionary idea).

The Métro signs at each entrance also differed from each other at different stops. These variations were not nearly as widespread, however, and their usage seemed random and non-specific to location. I did some research to find out why.

This is one of the 83 original surviving art nouveau entrances and is seen as an iconic symbol of Paris. It was designed by Hector Guimard in 1900 and its style caused much surprise and controversy. This is the primary stop we used on our trip (Abbesses) and it’s also one of the three remaining entrances with a more elaborate glass canopy.

This simpler version, a metal balustrade accompanying a “Métro” sign crowned by a spherical lamp, could be found in early stations around 1910.

This one has a similar type treatment to the previous, but is simplified even more with its stronger sans serif lettering placed onto a stone wall.

Signposts with just an “M” have become the norm since the 1970′s to present.

To see more pictures from the trip, check out my Flickr feed.

 

Publicité & Graphisme

“A poster, unlike a painting, is not and is not meant to be, a work easily distinguished by its manner—a unique specimen conceived to satisfy the demanding tastes of a single more or less enlightened art lover. It is meant to be a mass-produced object existing in thousands of copies like a fountain pen or automobile. Like them, it is designed to answer certain strictly material needs. It must have a commercial function.”

-AM. Cassandre, translated by Michael Taylor

AM Cassandre, "Dubonnet" - 1932

In a few days I will be traveling to Paris for a vacation and I wanted to familiarize myself with the history of French design, but I found no books or blogs on its history. This is, perhaps, due to France’s overwhelming amount of cultural history in painting, cinema, food, and fashion. Though French design seems to play a smaller role in France’s cultural history when compared to so many other facets of artistic expression, it’s advertising (publicité) and typographic (graphisme) legacies are by no means insignificant to a broad popular culture. (1) Below you will find an assortment of beautiful French posters that represent a rich cultural history of French graphic design.

 

Toulouse-Lautrec, "La Chaine Simpson" 1890's

Roland Ansieau, "Berger" 1935

Raymond Savignac, "Autorail Paris" 1937

Ramond Savignac, "Cigarettes Collie" 1952

Bernard Villemot, "Orangina" 1953

 

Toolboxes: A Narrative of Process

Whether you’re a writer, designer, illustrator or a grandmother turned pastry chef, you have a toolbox. If you’re a writer, you probably have an arsenal of pens and paper. If you’re a designer, you’ve certainly got a mighty mouse and some x-acto blades, and the illustrator could have anything from paint tubes to charcoal.

In the past three months, I’ve discovered Design*Sponge, a fantastic blog for anyone looking to be inspired to create or recreate your space. Design*Sponge has a recurring post called “ What’s In Your Toolbox?” and it’s a brilliant idea. Not only are these little features wonderful because they show beautiful work, but in a quick snap shot, they reveal process. You can see which artist is completely square and thinks through things all the way, and which ones work intuitively —grabbing the first piece of material at hand and working with what emerges.

These little toolbox portraits are beautiful, friendly and inspiring.

I’ve started throwing in random things into my own office drawer to see what I can reach in and find.

Enjoy these little vignettes. Photos from SCOUT’S HONOR Co. and Design*Sponge.