running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

Explosions in the Sky Return

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

There is still some life left in the record cover. Here is the rather amazing coverart for the equally amazing and long-awaited fifth album by Texas post-rock pioneers Explosions in the Sky.

The record was released simultaneously on CD and limited edition vinyl, complete with a quadruple gatefold sleeve that constructs two different three-dimensional rooms. Also included is a huge 36" X 36" double-sided poster which provides the base surface, all put together by the band's resident artist and collaborator, Esteban Rey.

The Gridnik at the Design Museum

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Pic sourced from Creative Review.

London's Design Museum is currently running the first UK retrospective of legendary Dutch graphic designer Wim Crouwel, one of the giants of visual communication, and a devout modernist who anticipated and exploited the arrival of digital technologies during the 1960's and 1970's.

Crouwel's typography and signage (the whole transport system in Holland, for example) have had a huge influence on design since the 1960's.

Spanning more than half a century, the exhibition covers Crouwel’s prolific print output at the seminal design agency Total Design, and features a wealth of great examples of the clean and controlled style that made him so famous.

Crouwel was heavily influenced by Emil Ruder and Karl Gerstner, embracing and then extending the Swiss Style, and he popularised grid-based layouts, which earned him the enviable nickname 'Gridnik'. He also produced some cool typefaces, including Fodor, and the radical but influential New Alphabet -

Crouwel is a regular speaker at design events, and is a highly quoteable character, as this classic clip from Gary Hustwits's Helvetica (2007) shows -

The exhibition runs till July 3rd, and also features these excellent talks and events -

Working With Wim - 9th May
Rick Poynor on Graphic Design in the Netherlands - 23rd May
Pioneers of Industrial Culture with Wim Crouwel - 23rd June
PechaKucha X Wim Crouwel - July 1st.

Safe Is Boring

Here are a couple of interesting typographical experiments by one of my HND students, Terry Smith, who is spending his Easter break on work placement in Edinburgh at the Union Agency.

The first is his project submission to the MPA Roses Awards, which won a commendation. Terry chose brief 8. 'Younique' set by Manchester-based Branding specialists Like A River -

"Great advertising & design connects with its audience. In six steps connect yourself with a hero. Present as a book and show us how unique your are."

Younique 1

Younique 2

Younique 3

Younique 4

The second example demonstrates Terry's approach to creativity. Inspired by a comment made by a fellow student, Terry constructed the words 'safe is boring' in heavy duty cardboard, and then set fire to them -

This year MPA Roses had 337 entries from across the UK. Full details and results on the DRUM's Roses Student Creativity Awards page.

Amnesty at 50

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Today's Observer newspaper features fifty great Amnesty International posters to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organisation. These form part of an exhibition of Amnesty posters which will be held in the Guardian and Observer building at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London from 4 -28 April, and which is open to the public.

Many of the posters feature direct visual references to political events in the year in which they were designed, and some of them are by renowned artists, including the one shown here by Picasso. Check out the gallery.

Modern Times

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Still on the subject of movies, a short filmed by a friend of mine Ben Craig was recently featured in The Hollywood Reporter as 'this year’s first hot short', and has subsequently had glowing reviews in the likes of Wired magazine and various film websites.

The Edinburgh-based film-maker 
is actually an Art Director at the Union Agency, and has made the cross-over from advertising to film with almost no budget, just a green screen studio, some willing friends, a lot of digital skill and of course a brilliant idea.

Modern Times pays homage to Kubrick's 2001 and latterly Duncan Jones' amazing 'Moon', but the sensibility is more cinematic advertising than sci-fi storytelling.

This thought-provoking short taps into the current zeitgeist of our era - the ever-increasing digitization of visual art forms - and how it threatens to deny generations of viewers access to the great analog works of 20th century cinema, photography and literature. The magic of cinema is celebrated in a futurist but entirely logical way.

Modern Times has generated interest from studios including Warner Bros, Fox and Paramount, and Ben has responded by releasing a behind-the-scenes clip documenting the making of the piece, which, despite revealing some CGI secrets, somehow manages to take nothing away from the impact of the actual film.

The End of the World as He Knows It

Friday, 1 April 2011

Just watched the brooding, almost wordless documentary directed by Sophie Fiennes, featuring one of my favourite artists, Anslem Kiefer.

The film premiered at Cannes last year, and examines the work of the 65-year-old German, famed for his apocalyptic and harrowing industrial landscape paintings and sculptures. Back in 2000, Kiefer started building 'La Ribaute', a series of elaborate installations, at a derelict factory near Barjac in the south of France.

The resulting work is sprawled over a 35-hectare site and is composed of massive underground tunnels, organic paintings, industrial sculptures, and crumbling stonework structures.

After a 25-minute introduction which pans through much of this work, Kiefer emerges in his studio and, aided by assistants, expertly manipulates lead, concrete, ash, soil, glass and even gold as he works on some amazing pieces of art.

The film features an unsettling atonal soundtrack by the composer Gy├Ârgy Ligeti and is not for the faint-hearted; it makes Koyaanisqatsi look like a Hollywood blockbuster.

In some ways Kiefer's methods are very much like those of Jackson Pollock. There is a sense that the 'action' of creating his work is an integral part of the expression, and much of his art is constructed on the ground.

Later in the film Kiefer is interviewed, and talks about his belief that the sea, being the original womb of all organic life, drives many of our dreams and spiritual beliefs.

What emerges is a portrait of a giant of late-twentieth century art who still has something essential, original and unapologetically nihilistic to say about the human condition and where we are all going.

Here's the original Trailer:

Cannes Film Review - Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian
Anslem Kiefer wiki
Over Your Cities, Grass Will Grow
Anslem Kiefer Collection@Moma