Thank-you, Nebraska!

Last week I had the pleasure of being flown down to the mighty Lincoln, Nebraska to be the keynote speaker for AdCamp put on by the Lincoln chapter of the AAF. It was all organized by Nick Evans. He got in touch with me, organized the whole deal, and hung out with me to show me the sights in Lincoln. Got some local stories and history, had some fine local ales and many laughs. Nick even hooked me up with a fine County Fair, Nebraska edition Field Notes, seen above.

I had the pleasure of speaking to a room full of designers, marketers and other titles from the Lincoln area. Awesome to see local chapters doing great events in unexpected places. Met some awesome people that day, and a fine group showed up for the Signalnoise Meet-up that evening. Then polka happened. Unless you were there, you’ll have to put up that vague detail.

Thanks again, Nick! Thank-you, Lincoln! And go Huskers!

Illustration by Andrew Kolb

Let’s start off the week with the work of illustrator Andrew Kolb. I came across Andrew’s work via Laughing Squid a little while back, just after he released his genius Space Oddity picture book, seen above. Love the idea and would murder a murder of crows to get my hands on a physical copy of that thing. So damn good, fantastic colours and design.

I figured the time was right to also show his fan-based The Walking Dead posters since the season premiere was last night. Really dig Andrew’s overall style, very Cartoon Modern reminiscent of 1950s cartoons.

Check out Andrew’s portfolio, drop into his online store and say hello on Twitter.

Design by Bob Noorda

• Pirelli ads “Friend for your bicycle”, 1955 and “Millions of cyclists choose Pirelli”, 1957.

• Pirelli ad and poster for Rolle tires, 1959.

• Packaging for Pirelli products, 1957 and 1958.

• Pirelli ads “Walking soles”, 1959 and “Clothing and raincoats”, 1959.

• Ads for ACNA Montecatini, 1961 and 1962.

• Lanco Watches ad, 1956 (with Studio Boggeri) and cover for Pagina Magazine N.2, 1963.

• Eni logo 1972, COOP logo 1994 and pictograms for Touring Club Italiano 1978.

• New York City Subway Manual pages and examples of the sign system, c.1970.

• São Paulo Metro mark, above-ground sign, cross section of a station and wall decorations, 1964.

• Poster for Biennale di Venezia, 1966 and packaging for Pirelli, 1968.

Some wonderful design work by Bob Noorda (1927 – 2010). I came across this feature and this one on the Display website a few days ago, excellent reads and selection of Noorda’s work. Great typography at work, limited color palette and beautiful linework. Just look at those icons for Touring Club Italiano. Can’t get enough.

Mr. Noorda’s best-known work in the United States was for the New York City Transit Authority, which in 1966 commissioned his firm, Unimark International, to modernize and unify the look of the subway system’s signs. The firm had been recommended by Mildred Constantine, an influential design curator at the Museum of Modern Art.

The images and captions above were taken from Display, and I urge you to have a look at the features above for more information on Noorda and his life in design.

Identity design by Salih Kucukaga

Some wonderful identity work from Istanbul-based designer Salih Kucukaga. Really enjoy the minimalist, utilitarian approach mixed with some distressed effects. Really eludes to a history behind these brands. And just look at that Black Goat logo. Beautiful.

These are just a few samples. Check out Salih Kucukaga’s full portfolio, and say hello on Twitter.

Hobo With a Shotgun: Poster process

If you’ve seen my Back to the Future presentation at any point this year you would have seen me tell the story of Hobo With a Shotgun and my involvement with the design of some of the elements. I’ve posted about the film before and talked about it on my broadcasts several times, but up until now the full behind-the-scenes gear was only shown onstage. It’s about time I retire that section of the presentation to launch it online for everyone to see.

It’s my favorite story to tell, my favorite project in recent years, and best of all it was all done for friends in order to help them with their project. That’s what it’s all about. We support each other around these parts and Dartmouth blood is thick, especially when being splattered onscreen. I was thrilled when Jason Eisener and Rob Cotterill asked me to design a Hobo poster. While not being the official one used, it was a wildly entertaining challenge. So lets load those barrels and get to it.

• Some Hobo poster thumbnails. Working out a concept.

• Full Rutger Hauer drawing, blue lead and ink.

• Digital concept mock-up #1.

• Digital concept mock-up #2.

• Digital concept mock-up #3. Boom!

I knew early on that I was going to digitally paint the poster, something I’ve been wanting to attempt for a while. A huge challenge, totally out of my comfort zone. I’ve been a big fan of guys like Drew Struzan and Bob Peak for a long time, so doing something like that offered up some unique obstacles which challenged my entire proces. Before I got to building the actual poster in Photoshop, I needed to have things planned out properly and extensively.

Shown above are my original concept sketches and digital mock-ups. I even went as far as doing a meticulous drawing of Rutger Hauer to get myself in the groove of capturing likeness in Photoshop. Again, something I’m pretty unfamiliar with. The digital mock-ups were unsuccessful from a design standpoint, but man, I still love that one of the Hobo blowing away the person looking at the poster. So funny.

• Palette samples.

The great thing about working with the guys is they have a really specific style in mind, and they can express it in art samples. Crazy helpful. Shown above are some color examples Jason sent over that he used as inspiration for the lighting and palette of Hobo. Bright pinks and purples are top priority, which I didn’t know since I hadn’t seen the film at this point. This really put me on the right path. Here are some digital mock-ups I put together with the new colours in mind.

• Digital concept mock-up #4.

• Digital concept mock-up #5.

I started some new mock-ups with the proper palette and vibe and things started to click. Again drawing on inspiration from Struzan, I collaged together some of the photos Jason sent over to get the composition nailed down. I can see a big Star Wars influence in there, which was fine since me and the Hobo guys are all kids of the ’80s. VHS culture, man. You might be able to see a Bill Sienkiewicz vibe in there too, I was looking at old Dazzler comic covers at the time.

• Vector colour palette test.

Once the composition was coming along, I decided to do a vector colour study before moving onto the digital paints. Having the photos were great, but I wanted to dilute the composition to know exactly what my palette was going to be. So I got rid of the details and roughed up the above image using simple shapes to represent the areas.

I should also mention that you’re going to see changes in layout and characters as we go. The poster was a total work in progress in terms of what characters would go where, even during the final stages.

• Starting in with the digital paints, blocking stuff in.

• Close-up of paint progress. More texture and detailing.

After all that planning I was finally able to leap into Photoshop and start building the paints. I took a semester of foundation paint at a local art school back in 2004, and even though I didn’t enjoy it that much I took from it some important techniques which lent itself quite well to Photoshop. I learned to block things in and layer colours on top of one another to build palettes and texture. Very helpful at this stage.

Shown above are my initial steps. Really rough and simple at tis point as I mapped things out. A big challenge was to let the brush in Photoshop act like paint. It was oksy to get a bit messy with it and let strokes fall outside the lines. It suited the content, y’know?

• Digital paint mid-point.

After many, many hours of digital painting the palette was starting to get away from me, as shown above. It didn’t have the life those initial compositions had and the colours were not near what I wanted. I did the “morning after” test, you know, when you sleep on it then wake up and hate what you’ve done? Yeah that. So I took an entire day, ripped apart my layers one by one and started adjusting everything. Added some new effects and dry brush textures to this thing.

By the end of the day, this is where I was:

• Palette and atmosphere revision.

Now we’re talking. This was where I wanted to be. I dug it, the guys dug it. We were off to the races.

• Final Hobo With a Shotgun poster.

So after a great many hours painting textures, splatters, characters, lighting and effects … the final poster emerged. The scene changed as I went, but it captured that initial flavour we all really wanted. Something fun, and cool, which would be very happy on the cover of a sun-bleached VHS box.

In the end, even though this wasn’t used as the official Hobo poster or box art, I wouldn’t trade this project for the world. It was created for a killer movie, a killer Dartmouth movie, for my friends. And it offered up some real challenges which put me in a place I wasn’t familiar with. I learned a huge amount by working on this thing, about the medium and about myself as a creator. To date I’ve only printed 2 of these things at full movie poster size, but more are in the pipeline for sure. You’ve been warned. There you have it.

And finally, if you haven’t seen Hobo With a Shotgun yet … what the hell are you waiting for?

1983 Apple Gift Catalog

1983 Apple Gift Catalog

1983 Apple Gift Catalog

1983 Apple Gift Catalog

1983 Apple Gift Catalog

1983 Apple Gift Catalog

1983 Apple Gift Catalog

1983 Apple Gift Catalog

1983 Apple Gift Catalog

1983 Apple Gift Catalog

1983 Apple Gift Catalog

One thing Apple has been overtly consciences about since Steve Jobs returned as CEO in 1997 was brand control. Jobs killed off the cheap Mac clone market and simplified the product lineup. Aside from that, officially licensed merchandise such as t-shirts, hats, mugs, etc. have only been made available directly from “the mothership” : Apple’s Company Store located on Apple’s Campus.

However, back in the early days while Apple was just beginning to mold their iconic brand, they sold Apple branded merchandise via mail order catalogs. Take this official Gift Catalog from 1983 for example, you could order everything from t-shirts and coffee mugs to a kite and tote bags. Man, I wish I could still order one of those tees…

I grabbed these photos from the awesome Lots of great Apple history over there, worth a long look if you’re an Apple fan.

Heading to Lincoln, NE

You and me, Lincoln! I’ll be getting on a plane tomorrow morning for my trek down to Nebraska to do a talk and hang out. My pal Nick Evans has planned things out, got some posters printed up and it sounds like we are all systems go. I’ll be packing up some stickers for those who come out to say hello. Here’s the details for the big day:

Signalnoise presentation: Back to the Future
When: Wednesday, October 12
Where: Embassy Suites Hotel, 1040 P. Street

Signalnoise Meet-up (Facebook)
When: Wednesday, October 12, 6pm – whenever
Where: Zen’s Lounge, 122 N. 11th Street
All are welcome!

That’s the scoop. Looking forward to meeting you all.

Signalnoise signed to Mystery Box

I’m proud to announce that Signalnoise has officially signed on with representatives at Mystery Box over in the UK, who will be handling the new business side of my company. When I was over in London for a few days I had the pleasure of hanging out and talking with Ollie Judge, and since then we have ironed out the details, inked some papers, and today is when we let the world know the scoop.

Things have been in flux these past few months with Signalnoise, where I’ve quite clearly noticed my strong points and weak points. After a while of stumbling about with ups and downs, I met Ollie and everything fell into place. On top of that, I’ll be standing next to the also newly signed artist on Mystery Box, my pal and awesome guy Tom Muller.

Having artist representation is brand new to me as I’ve been flying solo for the past few years. This announcement makes me excited for the future. New doors have opened up, new plans are in place, and good vibes are all around.

My contact page has been updated with the new business email. Be sure to swing over to the newly launched Mystery Box website (twitter), and say hello to Ollie on Twitter.