kris tate.

I like the collision of colour and greyscale, and also of forms that are literal with those that aren’t. Which is a fancy way of saying that I like it when deer wear bad 80s sweaters and lasers shoot out of cats’ eyes. Which is all an elaborate lead-up to the fact that I really dig these illustrations from British graphic designer Kris Tate. Even better, she’s got some gorgeous prints for sale online at Society 6, and if one of them could magically appear on my wall that would be mint.

shapeflow.

Shapeflow is an open-membership French art collective that seeks to engage and inspire designers, artists, and illustrators to share and contribute their work to the collective. The work on the site is divided into “issues”, each with a theme that then puts out an open-call on the site for anyone to submit their work for inclusion.

The current theme, “Springtime” (which I find pleasingly optimistic since most of Northern Europe is locked down in a record-breaking cold snap right now) has brought forth some bright, geometric, and inventive work, including some illustration and some interesting web-sourced data visualization.

Via Yay! Everyday!

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isaac tobin.

Isaac Tobin is senior designer at the University of Chicago Press. That’s his title. What he really does is create book covers so succinct, so pleasing, so enticingly balanced and sparsely enigmatic, that you won’t know whether to read it or hang it on your wall.

Personally, I’d go with the latter.

Via The Post Family

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clusta: plus+.

This is really intense. I like intense.

Created by UK/LA based digital design shop Clusta for a Birmingham design expo in 2006. Three years later this shit still blows my socks off…

simon page: cuben.

More science meets design, this time in illustration. I love the prismatic, Isaac Newton-esque vibe of “Cuben”, a poster series inspired by the properties of a cube, by Simon Page.

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Via Changethethought

hoagy houghton: aleatory compositions.

First off, let’s just get this out of the way, dude is named Hoagy Houghton. Which is incredible in and of itself.

Secondly, and equally as awesome, while graduating from the University of Brighton with Honours in both Illustration and Graphic Design he created “Aleatory Compositions”: A book of musical work, unwittingly written by people filling in colours onto a grid which were then translated into musical notes.

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All art is connected, just as are all human senses. By taking one medium generally ruled by one sense (colour and the eye) and transcribing it into another (music and the ear) he’s created an almost simulated synaesthesia. A sonic and visual switch-out that highlights the beauty of colour that lives within music, and visually manifests the inherent sonic shapes that live within colour. Add on some hot design to polish the whole concept off and voilá. Pure win.

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alex broadhurst: optical disc.

I’m in serious love with this poster by UK graphic designer Alex Broadhurst. The colours are incredible, like watching the surface of a bubble you’ve just blown. Plus, they’re printed on “240gsm A1 rainbow holographic mirri”. I have no idea what that means, but I bet it means the colours look shiny and purdy. Put together the words “rainbow” and “holographic” in one sentence and you pretty much had me at hello.

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The edition of 50 prints is already sold out. Which sucks for all of us who would have bought one. Hopefully he’ll reprint or one will just magically appear in my hallway…

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Via It’s Nice That

sebastian onufszak: in graphics we trust.

Hot, hot stuff from German illustrator, motion designer, and art director Sebastian Onufszak.

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alex ostrowski.

Even though it’s only been a word for about a month and a half, still I would sit up at nights and wonder if I’d ever truly know the meaning of “bromance”. Now I do. I have a design crush. Meet me by Heather’s locker after home room and I’ll tell you all about it…

To be totally straight up, the work of UK graphic designer Alex Ostrowski makes me tingly and jumpy on several levels. But the ultimate reaction is that it just makes me really happy. “Shiny happy people holding hands” happy. Happy go lucky happy. Happy on the soles of my shoes happy.

Ok, so let’s break it down. I’m a writer, and I love words. I also love design, but most of the time the words in highly designed works are used more as a vehicle to augment the imagery. In Ostrowski’s work, usually in book form, the text and design are fully integrated. Truly, the very medium of the book itself lends itself towards text, but he uses his design skills to enhance the meaning and conveyance of the text in conjunction with layout, not to sacrifice it at the alter of graphic design. Each enhances the other. In the end, the subtlety and clarity of his design shine through while the message speaks much louder.

This year he won “Engage!”, an RSA created competition aimed at fostering social responsibility in young designers and challenging them to create a project that did just that. Working with the Frenchay Brain Injury Rehabilitation Clinic in Brighton, England, he created “I Am Here” to help brain injury victims suffering from post-traumatic amnesia. Directly addressing their disorientation and confusion, he created a colour-coding system and book to help patients re-orient themselves to life, time, and place. I have a feeling though that the greatest triumph here would be the sense of calm and stability it would give, just to know that someone is here and someone is helping you. I find there’s such a genuine kindness to this project, especially when you hear Ostrowski talk about it. Click here to watch a video of the man himself discussing the concept behind “I Am Here”.

Though he went to UWE Bristol for graphic design, he’s clearly also got a poet’s touch. If there was ever a more lovely, life-affirming, literary hand-hold than “I am here”, I can’t think of it.

With “Note To Self”, he’s created a big book of happy morale-boosting posters. Each page is designed to be pulled out and posted around your life, wherever you may need it. Besides being hot design with some clever font work, it’s the basic idea of it that I love the most. In a similar vein to You Are Beautiful, in a world that so often focuses on everything wrong with us “Note To Self” is simply asking for the opportunity to remind us to feel good. How fucking rad is that? I want to marry this dude.

But the goodness keeps on coming. One of his smallest projects – no larger than a business card – is one of my favourites. Having once learned from a friend with depression that therapists sometimes tell their patients to look up at chimneys so that they see more light with their eyes and release some happiness-inducing hormones, he created “Look Up”. Nothing more than a business card with the chimney counting tip, which he then distributed around low-light areas in Bristol.

I love how he seems to be on a very simple mission to induce some joy in people’s lives. Every medium can do this. We’ve all been uplifted by the usual suspects: music, film, art. But these media all have the handicap of being intrinsically a little one-sided. A movie is a movie is a movie. We’re all moved by music but once recorded we can’t add to it’s purpose. It will not alter and you can not actively change it or participate in it. The beauty of the wide open door of design, and exactly what I think Ostrowski is tapping in to so brilliantly, is that there are myriad possibilities to inspire interaction. To galvanize people a little. And through one lovely idea, well designed and handed to others in ways they will trust and understand, you can plant a seed that can sprout in untold directions. From this one card, and from the positivity it creates, there’s no telling where each individual will go. Chimney counting… and onward.

His design work might seem really simple at first, but don’t be fooled. All true creatives know the greatest challenge is to take something seemingly plain and make it perfect. I can write paragraphs for days, so much room to maneuver and flap my wings and run about, but it’s honing down a concept into that one, succinct, perfect sentence that really makes me shit my pants. I would try it right now but I’m sure I’d fuck it up.

Above all, this sense of social responsibility and passion to do good isn’t just for flair. As he states on his site, Ostrowski is interested in using “design for good” and has made a conscious decision to tangibly and directly help others with his work.

His site is a must-see for all the projects he’s involved in, but to end off here’s one more that I love:

Ostrowski says “In 2006 researchers at The University of Leicester concluded that Denmark is the happiest country in the world – this was good enough for me. In March 2008 I made the decision to visit happiness, and embarked upon a pilgrimage to find it. My experiences are presented in this book.

Only one copy exists.”

My frustration at not being able to read it is exceeded only by my joy that something like this is exists. And perhaps that is precisely the point.

Via It’s Nice That

thomas frenzel + katja schweiker + michael fakesch: “blackbird”.

I love, love, love this project. Love. Daddy love. Daddy love long time. Anytime the visual and audio worlds come together in the hands of designers like these, the result is always spectacular. Exploring the same idea of visually interpreting music as the amazing animator and jazz musician Michal Levy, the video for “Blackbird” is a “collaborative music visualization” created by multimedia designer and information architect Thomas Frenzel and graphic designer Katja Schweiker.

I really dig the smoothness of the sound peppered with the sudden visual shifts, accenting the electronic interruptions in the song. If it was over-done, it would be jarring and annoying, but done skillfully like this it’s impossible to stop watching. Gorgeous. In the words of it’s creators, “it’s about trying and failure—trying to leave behind, trying to live in a forward-turned way, trying not to resign or surrender, trying to get aware.”

Frenzel’s work extends into editorial and interface design, and I love everything he’s done. Lots of it is text-based, treating words and lettering in new and interesting ways; frosting, scribbling, spray-painting text over sleek, modern backgrounds. His interface designs are seamless but visually arresting – unlike some new-wave interface designers, he thankfully doesn’t sacrifice usability in order to seem avant garde.

Equally brilliant is the song itself, and just the music in general, of Michael Fakesch. The “Blackbird” video was created as part of his latest project, “VIDOS”, a vid anthology inspired by his last album “DOS”. Some of the hottest motion and graphic designers in the world are lined up to work on more videos based on songs from “DOS”, and I’m totally hyped now to get my hands on the DVD. Here’s a promo video for “VIDOS”:

The whole project has the same sort of high-design forefront feel of Matt Pyke’s upcoming hi-def soundscape project Advanced Beauty, which I’m not afraid to say, will be the hottest shit ever. (The world premiere of “Advanced Beauty” is going down May 9 at Lovebytes 2008 – the digital and new art conference in Sheffield, England. In some frenzied, unrealistic moments I seriously thought of flying to the UK to see it, but then life got in the way.) So I wasn’t surprised to find that one of my fave designers and Advanced Beauty contributors Mate Steinforth has also worked with Michael Fakesch, on a short vid called “Color Robot”:

Via Fresh Creation

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