Food for thought‘[...] do not think that good design can make a poor product good, whether the product be a machine, a building, a promotional brochure or a business man. But [...] good design can materially help make a good product reach its full potential. In short, [...] good design is good business.’
Thomas J. Watson Jr., IBM CEO

If there’s any magic, it certainly happens at sketch stage – Craig Frazier

February 23, 2014, 4:16 PM

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Lately I’ve been less and less interested in ‘design’ and more interested in ‘visually expressed ideas that can be understood by non-designers’. I won’t call it illustration, as I think it’s about much more than that. Sadly, with the rise of computers and internet that led to the commodification of most creative arts, ‘illustration’ has lost a lot of its value (just like ‘design’).

Editorial illustration (of the fine type) is arguably the best example on how wits and graphics can be delightful for almost anyone, not just us self-centred ‘creatives’. Christoph Niemann is the first that comes to mind, and not only because of my obsession for his work lately – but more on this in another post.

Craig Frazier is another of the finest illustrators that have worked for NY Times, Time, Bloomberg Businessweek and many more. Two quotes from him stayed with me especially, from a short film in which he talks about the importance of sketching (video and link below):

“If there’s anything magic … it certainly happens at sketch stage. If it’s not there, it’s not gonna show up later on”

and

“There’s a level of perfection that I’m looking for in the idea, but there’s a level of imperfection that I’m willing to accept, and actually embrace, in the rendering of the drawing itself.”

There’s almost never just one way of doing things, so I wouldn’t say that all creatives should have good drawing skills, but I do believe that working (thinking) away from the computer makes a big difference. Whether you do it by drawing (well or not), writing, or any other way that’s disconnected enough from the medium that you’ll eventually finalise your work in, your work will be much better. I love drawing and I’m constantly trying to improve my skills, but that’s just my choice.

Mr Frazier’s beautiful and witty illustrations always start on paper, shaped out as great sketches. He is kind enough to show many of these, together with the finished illustrations, in his book ‘The Illustrated Voice’. The introduction is written by Ivan Chermayeff, which should say more than enough.

The Illustrated Voice – Craig Frazier

The Illustrated Voice – Craig Frazier

The Illustrated Voice – Craig Frazier

The Illustrated Voice – Craig Frazier

Needless to say, a great book to learn from. More can be seen on Mr Frazier’s website, but watch the film first:

Worker Series #1 Craig Frazier – Illustrator and Storyteller from Jeff Hurn on Vimeo.

RELATED LINKS

98pages, a website showing 98 of Mr Frazier’s beautiful sketches;
— an interview with Craig Frazier (he mentions Christoph Niemann too);
— video via @Issue Journal, The All-Important Sketching Stage.

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Picturing Thoughts

December 31, 2013, 2:05 PM

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‘Born out of a relentless need to explore, Picturing Thoughts is an ongoing personal project which turns thoughts into images, thereby creating space for more interesting thoughts. — The title is inspired by Alan Fletcher’s book, Picturing and Poeting, its own title being borrowed from a remark allegedly made by Kurt Schwitters.’

This description sums up what my Picturing Thoughts project is all about. It can be found on both the project’s website and on the second page of the project’s first booklet, which I printed in the beginning of 2013, collecting the best twenty of the first fifty pieces. At the moment (end of 2013), there are seventy pieces on the website and more than a dozen in the works.

It’s Nice That, the popular online magazine, featured the project in July and were very kind in their description of both the project and my work. I photographed the booklet for their feature, you can see the images below (click on images for larger versions).

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My initial plan was to do and post them on a monthly basis, but reality rarely matches our initial plans. I work on them in my sketchbooks almost daily, after which I finish them in Illustrator in batches of five and post fifteen or twenty pieces every two or three months, sometimes more, depending on my workload and other personal projects.

All pieces are usually designed as posters, but I have no plans of selling them at the moment. What matters most is doing them, the process, learning through it. I plan to print a second booklet sometime in 2014, but I have two other booklet projects that I have to finish first. If you’re wondering, I use the booklets for self-promo purposes, they’re printed digitally on an HP Indigo by the fine folks at PurePrint (they print the Eye magazine, which says it all). You can hardly tell the difference from litho (offset), digital has come a long way.

By the way, eight of the Picturing Thoughts were also included in the ‘After Hours’ exhibition, showing work by some well-known designers, and a few young designers among which I was very lucky to be included. You can read my blog post about it.

If you’d like to see all of them, please go to PicturingThoughts.com — subscribe or follow on Tumblr if you’d like to be notified when new ones are posted. Thank you, hope you’ll find them inspiring.

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Isidro Ferrer

September 15, 2013, 1:02 PM

This post was initially published on TypeToken.

Isidro Ferrer is a Spanish graphic designer and illustrator, member of AGI since 2000. He graduated in drama and scenography, and worked as a stage actor before turning towards graphic design and illustration. His ‘plays’ with ordinary objects, different meanings, photography and typography have led to an awe-inspiring body of work that reminds of greats like Pierre Mendell, Armin Hofmann, Anthon Beeke or Polish poster designers. He’s been involved in a wide range of projects, from posters and identities for cultural institutions, illustration for adults and children, comics, TV cartoons, packaging, publishing to monumental and wayfinding. He has published more than 30 books, been involved in many exhibitions and won a lot of prestigious awards.

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You can admire more of his projects on his website, IsidroFerrer.com. Some more info on his AGI profile, an interview from AGI Open Barcelona in 2011 and another interview by IndexBooks.

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Tsunami, a beautiful illustrations-project

April 23, 2011, 2:27 PM

Tsunami is a laudable project started by the CFSL community, gathering illustrators and other artists to create works as homage to the March 11 Japanese catastrophe. The best works have been included in the Magnitude 9 book, which you can buy and help raise money for the Give2Asia fund.

There are so so many beautiful works, the techniques ranging from awesome watercolours, pencils, ink, photo-only, typography to even oil-like Photoshop paintings, like this ‘Island of the Dead’ reinterpretation (the classic painting, by Arnold Böcklin). Obviously, there are some child-like drawings too, but even some of those have their own touching effect. Be warned, there are 17 pages of entries so far, but most of them are really worth it.

As expected whenever there’s a Japanese-related contest, the Japanese sun is the most used symbol, but there are a lot of anime & manga characters present too: Astro Boy, Godzilla, Pikachu, Akira, mechas and many more. Plenty of samurais as well, Mount Fuji, kimonos, temples, toriis, ukiyo-e-like or Hokusai waves, bamboo umbrellas, koi fish, dragons, Noh-theatre and other folk-related characters.

Among these, it’s no surprise that Miyazaki’s characters are some of the most heart-touching: Totoro, Catbus, the Kodama or the Laputa Robot — all of them being nature protectors or spirits in their original stories. There’s even an over-whelmed Porco Rosso (or maybe he’s resting a bit between searches).

Here are some of my favourites:

• this touching Totoro, by Virginy Coste:

• another equally touching Totoro by Redec (you can visit his blog too):

• a simple-yet-strong one by Sylvain Guinebaud:

• one unrelated to Miyazaki, but nontheless beautiful, by Mista Benny:

• and last but not least, this beautiful Laputa robot, protecting Totoro (if you look carefully, you can see yet another Miyazaki character) — by Sébastien Vastra:

Many thanks to Florian Nistor for the find
— hopefully, you’ll get your website up & running soon, mate! :)

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Wolverine's 35th anniversary art

December 18, 2009, 7:01 PM

This year, Wolverine celebrated his 35th anniversary — even though he is famed to be a lot older than that, he fought in the first world war, remember? Anyway, Marvel pulled a nice one, producing a lot of covers with Wolverine as if he were drawn by some of the most fameous artists in history: Van Gogh, Klimt, Utamaro, Dali and many more. Read more about it here: Wolverine Art Appreciation Month.

Here are some of my favourites:
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Enchanting minimalism — Jun's paintings

October 25, 2009, 12:11 AM

I can’t help but feel envy each time I see an asian artist that manages to express so well and so differently the light’s glow and its playfulness, nature’s vast array of colours, the shadows in their multitude of tints and shades, the feel of tranquility while looking around on a simple, normal day. All I know is her name, Jun, from the blog ii-ne-kore. Her website is in japanese, and sadly, in spite of the tons of anime that I’ve watched to this day, I still can’t read or speak the language :) But little does that matter, all you have to do is admire her work—no words are necessary.

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(via ii-ne-kore, thanks Simona)

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Michael Anderson—coolest CV you’ve ever seen

October 7, 2009, 12:34 PM

This guy surely got the attention. You can read about it on his blog, theportfolio.ofmichaelanderson.com (direct link).

Coolest CV — click on the image for a larger size.

(via dump.com, thanks Andreea)

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Charlie Allen — Back in the days

August 26, 2009, 11:19 PM

Mr. Charlie Allen, an old time illustrator (born the same year as my grandpa, 1922), shows some wonderful work, along with some interesting stories from the times when everything was made in the good old fashioned way: by hand.

I simply love this one:
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(via design observer)

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