Monday, December 18, 2006

Art | Direction | Juan Gatti

I saw Pedro Almodovar's Volver a few weeks ago, and was awed at the film's end when the title credits rolled, incorporating elements of the characters' clothing patterns into the funky graphic array of flowery imagery. A little research led me to this interesting article in the International Herald Tribune about the title credit's art director, Juan Gatti. In addition to collaborating with Almodovar on several of his films, Gatti has led a very vibrant career as an art director of both editorial and commercial work. Check out his engaging, eclectic portfolio here.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Advertising | Blog | Scary Ideas

Just discovered Scary Ideas, a blog/site dedicated to weird and funny advertisements and video clips. Lots of funny, clever ads, many of them actually real, although disappointingly, no agencies or creatives are cited for the work. Although, maybe that's for the best -- the emphasis here is on the weird and out-there, not on ego stroking. While I'm on the subject, frequent visits to Joe La Pompe are great for reminding one's self what has been done, over and over and over again (and a reminder why the visual pun/metaphor is so darn trite).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Art | Illustration | Saul Steinberg

When I was growing up, there weren't a lot of art books in our house. Don't get me wrong -- my parents are both smart people and there were tons of books around, it's just they were heavy on words and short on pictures. Besides feasting my eyes on the photos in National Geographic, I spent long hours sifting through the books on our shelves looking for the ones that had pictures, not just big, complicated words. (The abundance of books-with-words probably does account for why I was reading Slaughterhouse Five and The Communist Manifesto in seventh grade. But, I digress.) Anyway, one of the few books we had that contained almost only pictures and no words was a big, fat collection of the drawings of Saul Steinberg, the legendary illustrator for the New Yorker amongst countless other publications. When I discovered the book at age 7 or 8, I remember considering it as no different than any other picture books aimed at children, and just enjoying the whimsy and imagination of all his illustrations.

So, imagine my glee to discover he currently has not one, but two retrospectives currently here in New York. One, titled "Saul Steinberg: Illuminations," is at the Morgan Library through March 4, 2007, and features over one hundred drawings, collages, and sculptural assemblages; the other, titled "A City on Paper: Saul Steinberg's New York," is at the Museum of the City of New York, with a more New York-centric approach, through March 25, 2007. I won't be able to check either out til I return to New York in 2007, but I'm excited to see some of his stuff up close and original. In a world that's increasingly filled with so computer-generated work (from Photoshop to its impact in graphic design), it's really nice to get 'back to basics' and see what can be done with a piece of paper and ink.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Video | Hotel Kittyfornia

I was walking by Trocadero awhile back and saw a part of this being filmed and wondered what the hell was going on. Luckily, I just stumbled across the finished product online and my questions were answered. This clip, produced by and starring a fashion designer of all people, shows Hello Kitty as that girl you want to party with.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Design | Philosophy | Milton Glaser

Last Monday, I had the opportunity to see Milton Glaser, Chip Kidd and Dave Eggers speak at the 92nd Street Y on the art and evolution of book cover design. All three men are very different in their approach to cover design, but their presentations were illuminating on the kinds of processes they use to come up with their covers. Inspired, I checked out Milton Glaser's site and found this fantastic speech he made at an AIGA talk in London in 2001. So this isn't brand spanking new, but rather one of those classic pieces full of good advice for probably every working, thinking person out there. So, without further adieu, here are a few of my favourite excerpts from "Ten Things I Have Learned."

3. Some people are toxic. Avoid them.
...It is not necessarily true that the same person will be toxic or nourishing in every relationship, but the combination of any two people in a relationship produces toxic or nourishing consequences. And the important thing that I can tell you is that there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energised or less energised. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.

4. Professionalism is not enough or The Good is The Enemy of The Great.
... I discovered after working for a while that professionalism itself was a limitation. After all, what professionalism means in most cases is diminishing risks. ... After all, what is required in our field, more than anything else, is the continuous transgression. Professionalism does not allow for that because transgression has to encompass the possibility of failure and if you are professional your instinct is not to fail, it is to repeat success.

7. How you live changes your brain.

8. Doubt is better than certainty.
... I remember once going to a class in yoga where the teacher said that, spirituality speaking, if you believed that you had achieved enlightenment you have merely arrived at your limitation. I think that is also true in a practical sense. Deeply held beliefs of any kind prevent you from being open to experience, which is why I find all firmly held ideological positions questionable. ...

His other essays are also full of a lot of very interesting insights which I strongly recommend as well.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Design | Blog | Print & Pattern

From GenArt's Pulse magazine, I followed a link to this very cool blog tracking all kinds of interesting design motifs, many of them charmingly retro.