Date Archives October 2012

Words of wisdom and inspiration from Michael Cina

Michael Cina portrait

Hearing the back stories or words of wisdom from those you respect is always a great way to learn. What works for them could potentially work for yourself. Recently Michael Cina, artist, designer and all around Renaissance man, updated one of his sites Cina Text with a number of questions that people have asked him with well thought out, detailed answers. I was pouring through the site last night, there’s a whole lot of content, and I’d suggest taking a look and soak in some wise words. Here’s one of my favorite questions.

You’re a bit of a renaissance man—you’re an artist, a designer and a typographer—how does that play out when you’re designing for an album cover, where do you start first: with the art or the typography?

Recently I have been thinking about this topic. I feel that design is an exploration of semiotics, the visual language of what all images say (typography included). That is my main guidepost for producing an album cover. I am trying to use album covers as a mode of communication.

A lot of times I start with visual ideas and more often than not, I leave type twords the later part of the process. I can do anywhere from 10 to 100 visual ideas, so by that time, the image becomes a little more elevated in its importance.

The typographic aspect of the project is usually me getting myself out of a corner that I put myself in by not thinking about more about the typographic aspect. I use type sparingly on a lot of covers, but I am always aware of what it is saying.

Recently I started on a cover using typography as the main element. After two hours of working on it I ended up doing a cover with no type on it at all!

The Halloween Wallpaper Project featuring Haik Avanian

The Halloween Wallpaper Project featuring Haik Avanian

Haik Avanian

We continue our week of Halloween inspired wallpapers with this super clever approach by Haik Avanian. Rather than showing a bunch of different candies Haik went the opposite route and blew up a Tootsie Roll to an extreme proportion. It’s definitely pop art inspired and I think the simplicity of a piece like this works so well as a wallpaper. A big thanks to Haik for such a wonderful wallpaper, and be sure to check in tomorrow and the rest of the week for more wallpaper goodness.

Charming animation in ‘Time To Go’ – A music video for Wax Tailor feat Aloe Blacc

I have to confess that I hadn’t heard of French producer Wax Tailor until spotting this video for his new track Time To Go. I’m glad I did! The music-video is truly charming. Directed by Darcy Prendergast and Seamus Spilsbury at the Australian animation studio Oh Yeah Wow, the video tells the story of a crochet quadropus who journeys through a city turning things blue. The whole thing is beautifully animated in painstaking stop-motion and watching the little quadropus swim through the air is a wonderful sight.

If you’re interested in seeing some behind-the-scenes shots from the making of the video you can head over to Oh Yeah Wow’s Flickr page. The track itself is taken from Wax Tailor’s fourth studio album Dusty Rainbow From The Dark which is available for purchase through iTunes.

Gue(ho)st house by Berdaguer & Péjus

Gue(ho)st house by Berdaguer & Péjus

Gue(ho)st house by Berdaguer & Péjus

Gue(ho)st house by Berdaguer & Péjus

From a ghost town to this: a Gue(ho)st house. The difference is that here we have a building that hasn’t been abandoned  but has served a variety of functions: it’s been a prison, a school and even a funeral home. Now, the building, located in eastern France, is a gallery and visitors space that has been given a polystyrene makeover by artists Berdaguer and Péjus. The eeire and blobby addition to the building spills from the facades of the building onto the ground and only slightly resembles the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters. The pair of artists also has a series of models named Pyschoarchitecture and another project, Architecture Fantome.

Pietro Gala Pasta Packaging

Pietro Gala Pasta Branding

Pietro Gala Pasta Branding

Lovely food packaging is always great to come by, and Pietro Gala is both beautiful and fun. Created by Russian design agency Fresh Chicken, the packaging features the chef Peter Gala with a nice viewport for the type of pasta that rests inside. I think the simple brown paper packaging with the black printing does a great job of framing the pasta and letting it be the focus. If I saw this on a store shelf I’d definitely grab a few boxes for a dinner party.

‘Last Calls’ by PVTLVS


My old friend Vasco Cesaretti, who I wrote about nearly 4 years ago, has had some major life changes. He’s moved from Los Angeles to Berlin, and he’s started a band called PVTLVS. The band consists of himself and his friend Nick Zorn, and while they only have one song so far, it’s one damn good song. It’s called Last Calls and it’s a seven minute track which is a stunner. Vasco totally has a sexy voice and the music on this track reminds me of a more exciting version of The xx. Listen to the song and you’ll see what I mean.

Or you can watch this music video of the song, which they posted only hours ago.

Hip hop/samurai inspired paintings by Ferris Plock

'Carry On', a new exhibition by Ferris Plock

'Carry On', a new exhibition by Ferris Plock

The ever-talented Ferris Plock has a show up at Shooting Gallery in SF currently called Carry On, filled with samurai animals ready to break dance. Seriously. The description of the show does a great job at summing up the work.

Plock’s instantly recognizable style of finely drawn details and intricate patterns against simply stained backgrounds are influenced by Japanese woodblock prints and achieved through a variety of materials. House paint, wood stains, gouache, gold foil, and wood panels are transformed into windows to a world where a kimono-clad samurai might hoist a boombox instead of a sword and anthropomorphic creatures are frozen mid-yell, mid-jump and mid-mischief.

Ferris’ work is seriously unrivaled. I’ve never seen anyone who’s been able to merge these cultures together in such a seamless way while still maintaing a high level of quality. There’s also a level of detail that’s kind of mind-blowing. The intricate patterns in the clothing of these characters is so nuanced that you could easily get lost in them.

The show is up until November 3rd so be sure to stop by!

10 Amazing Design Shops in Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen

10 Amazing Design Shops in Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen

My name is Lisa Congdon, and I’m a San Francisco artist and illustrator. I’ve long been obsessed with the Scandinavian aesthetic, and recently I traveled for the first time to Scandinavia and Iceland on an inspiration-gathering trip. Bobby asked me to share a few of my favorite design shop finds.

I absolutely loved every place I visited (including Iceland), but my favorite design finds were in the cities of Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen. One thing you should know is that this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list of all the “best” design shops in Scandinavia. For one thing, I didn’t even go to Oslo, and even in the cities I did visit, I didn’t get to all the shops. This list isn’t even comprehensive of all the amazing shops I did visit! There are too many to name. This is just a list of a few of my favorite shops. For those of you traveling to any of these three cities, I highly recommend a visit to these places. Even if you can’t afford what’s on the shelves, just looking is a treat.

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The Halloween Wallpaper Project featuring Noah MacMillan

The Halloween Wallpaper Project featuring Noah MacMillan

Noah MacMillan

For those of us in the States (and certain places around the globe) it’s Halloween time, probably one of my favorite times of year. I remember dressing up as the weirdest things as a chid (proof here) and then running around the neighborhood collecting candy. In that spirit I decided to gather a group of five talented creatives to make some Halloween themed wallpapers to decorate your devices each day this week.

First up is Noah MacMillan a St. Louis based designer and illustrator who’s work is colorful yet kinda’ dark and edgy in execution. Noah decided that he want to eschew the norms of Halloween and make a wallpaper that was “something a little spooky and mysterious without falling to deep into campy halloween-land.” I think he totally killed it, and I love everything about this wallpaper. The crows, the keys, the spooky branches… it’s perfect.

Again, check back every day this week for a new wallpaper!

The Opulent and Abandoned Abodes of Kabul’s Sherpur Neighborhood

Sher-Pur Kabul Afganistan

Sher-Pur Kabul Afganistan

This past Saturday, I summoned the courage to visit four haunted houses. Not real haunted houses, but the kind built with black polyvinyl sheeting and covered with synthetic spider webs that magically appear this time of year. To be clear, I hate horror movies or any situation where someone is trying to scare me.  But I had a blast. The trick was spending my time in these houses trying to figure out how they worked. Well, that and clutching tightly to friends, saying “DON’T TOUCH ME” over and over. In the four houses, similar scenarios emerged: this was an opulent residence abandoned under mysterious circumstances a long time ago. Just when you think you’re going to figure out the mystery, a man with a chainsaw chases you out of the house.

But, a week before Halloween, what does a real abandoned mansion look like? A hemisphere away, in Afganistan, a fancy neighborhood is slowly being abandoned.  The situation leading to the decline of Kabul’s Sher-Pur neighborhood is complex, but not mysterious. This formerly low income neighborhood is now crowded with oversized, garish and empty houses:

“Built up using mashup of imported architectural designs from Dubai, the neighborhood is full of massive poppy palaces and narco palaces, a reference to the illicit capital flows that drive the construction of these buildings. These single-family houses frequently contain as much as 45 bedrooms, and many were constructed primarily to facilitate the interests of the international humanitarian regime.  For years, NGOs commonly pay anywhere between 12,000 USD and 100,000 USD per month to rent these structures for their staff.”

But now that NGOs are leaving Afganistan, these multi-room monstrosities are collecting dust and spiderwebs. Not the fun, synthetic kind, either. It’s more amusing to visit a pretend abandoned mansion than to think about the realities that push entire neighborhoods to become ghost towns, or at least ghost enclaves. I can survive a trip down the “Tunnle of Nightmare” (their spelling, not mine) because I know it’s going to be a series of simple tricks, not something long and inescapable. But even in a dark, plastic maze, when assured that nobody will touch you, you may find yourself knocked to the ground and poked in the groin with a bladeless chainsaw.