The Best of Signalnoise: 2011 wrap-up

As 2011 comes to a close, I wanted to post a kind of “best of” wrap-up article that’s relevant to the content of my blog. I know 2011 brought some new readers to my corner of the internet so presented here is a rapid fire, pared down summary of favorite projects from this year and the stories behind them. A rough outline of this year’s work. 2011 seems to have blown by at hyperspeed, but it was a big year for all of us.

Here we go, the Best of Signalnoise 2011.

January 2011: Year Zero for OFFF Barcelona – I was asked by the kind folks who were organizing OFFF Barcelona to contribute a piece to their publication which was available at the conference. I decided to take an ‘illuminati’ approach to the idea and put together this futuristic, neon-clad pyramid. It landed proudly in the Year Zero book, and was the first big appearance of hot pink and “brush text” in my work. Something I would revisit throughout the year.

February 2011: Signalnoise Poster for The Sword – After seeing a tweet from my favorite metal band looking for an artist to create some visuals, I jumped at the opportunity with ferocity. I set aside some hours one weekend and created this poster for The Sword, playing off some of the ideas of their latest record, Warp Riders. Without having any previous contact with the boys, I fired it off to them and they loved it. The poster was used for their Australian and European tours, and they commissioned me shortly after to design a t-shirt for their tour with Kyuss Lives.

March 2011: Hobo With a Shotgun poster – It was a big year for Dartmouth. Hobo With a Shotgun was unleashed on the world by Jason Eisener and his crew, and I was asked to design a poster for them. I spent a lot of time learning new digital painting techniques for this one, really pushed myself into uncharted territory. The guys were thrilled with the result, and this was used as a little promo tool for the premiere here in town. I also designed the Hobo logo.

March 2011: Help Japan – After the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged northern Japan on March 11th, I created the Help Japan poster in order to sell online to raise money for relief efforts. The design quickly went viral and spread all over the world in a few days. It was used by fundraising events around the globe and sparked an array of design efforts online to raise money for Japan. My poster raised $20,000 for the Canadian Red Cross.

June 2011: Signalnoise Identity Revision – I went through an identity crisis in the middle of the year and decided to do a refresh of my rainbow sun and Signalnoise wordmark. It was scary upon first launch because I’ve become so used to my previous version, but after using the new mark for the last 6 months I can honestly say it was a good move. Much easier to use, and much more flexible for print.

August 2011: The Explorer – This image popped into my head while I was running in a rainstorm to catch the ferry. Not really sure where it came from or what it was for, but certainly a poster design that I was proud of. It brought together a few new techniques I learned this year and was a fun, abstract concept to explore.

August 2011Tutorial Culture vs. Two Goldfish – An article I wrote concerning the friction between learning vital skills on your own through experimentation, and the saturation of online tutorials we see today. I talk about some of the issues that have come up, and how I relate that to my own creative development throughout the 90’s and 2000’s. The article sparked a very interesting dialogue between new and veteran designers, a wonderful exchange of outlooks and ideas.

August 2011: NASA Mission Patches – I decided I was going to challenge myself to do some logo/patches for NASA. This was a self-initiated endeavour to get me out of my comfort zone and dive 100% into Illustrator for a period of time. I’ve been using Illustrator consistently since ’95, but the last few years it’s always been in conjunction with Photoshop. This project got into the vector world and, even though I couldn’t get NASA’s attention with these, they were super fun to create.

October 2011: Sad Mac in Steve Jobs Commemorative Newsweek – After hearing the news of Steve Jobs passing away, I created this little Sad Mac icon while I watched the tweets go by paying tribute to the man behind Apple. What started as my own little tribute, ended up being used by Newsweek magazine in their Steve Jobs commemorative issue gracing the entire inside front cover. This little guy still chokes me up a bit.

October 2011: DRIVE movie poster – After seeing the film DRIVE I knew immediately I wanted to create a poster for it. I got to work and after a few days I finished my hot pink tribute to the movie. After it’s launch I was buried with comments, tweets and emails from people wanting a copy of the unofficial poster which was all very unexpected. After a little while of negotiating, my agent and good pal Ollie Judge inked a deal with Film District to make this poster official. I will be offering copies very soon, which I’m pumped about. Stay tuned …

November 2011: The New FITC Identity – While working on the creative for FITC Toronto 2012, I designed a few logos along the way. The crew behind the event liked one of the designs so much it became the new official FITC logo being used across all events. It’s not often that I get to design logos these days, so I’m very proud of this one and was happy to help out my friends in the process.

November 2011: Jay and Silent Bob Get Old Canadian Tour poster – After seeing a tweet by director Kevin Smith asking Canadian artists to submit any artwork they may have to be used as a tour poster, I jumped at the opportunity and designed this Jay and Silent Bob Get Old piece. It landed in front of Kevin who loved it, and it immediately evolved into a working relationship directly with the big man. I was commissioned to create a poster for his Plus One Live II event in London and am currently working on a big project with him involving 10 original posters.

Conclusion
So what can be synthesized from all this? I worked with a bunch of great clients during 2011 on some enjoyable projects, but everything I listed in the post shares a very important detail. All of these projects were born out of self-initiation. I started these because I wanted to work on them, because they meant something to me. I didn’t think any of these projects would grow into anything substancial, I just threw myself into them because it’s what I do. If you love what you do, it shows in your work, man. I believe that.

All of these projects (and subsequent results) are examples of what can happen if you take a chance, if you cultivate work using unconventional methods. These days, you need to be a renegade to achieve your goals.

6 Comments

  1. James White

    Awesome year of work, James. I found your art after I was asked if I was “Signalnoise”, I guess our names are similar… Anyway, love your stuff (especially The Sword stuff). Happy Christmahuanakwanza to you and yours and all the best for next year!!

  2. Nice, as always.
    You should do this for a livin’ :)

  3. Congrats on a fantastic year. It’s always inspiring to read your background stories and it’s been a pleasure to have finally met you! Here’s to an even better 2012!

  4. Another illustrious year for Signalnoise. Great work James. Hope you can get some recognition from Nasa sometime soon.

  5. Brilliant Works!!! Mr.James

    Respect from ASO (Mongolia)

  6. reine

    Check France!, more or less crappy film posters here!.

Leave a Reply