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Archives: March 2010

In Brief: Redesigns and Revolutions


  • Britain’s Conservative party is causing double takes with its new pre-election posters (like the one above). “It’s a strange campaign that seems to distill the current state of British politics,” notes Sam Jacob in a piece on Icon magazine’s website. “Politics has become an aesthetic project rather than a verbal one. Positions are not set out in words, but expressed through hyper-sophisticated images.”
  • In other redesign news, our sister blog FishbowlNY reports on the fresh look of Natural Home. The magazine still can’t get over its love of small caps, but we endorse any publication that will put a couple of old doorknobs on the cover.
  • Revolution! Evolution! Stop, you’re both right. Stefano Tonchi doesn’t officially take the editorial helm of W until April 12, but times, they’re already a-changin’. Longtime creative director Dennis Freedman is leaving the magazine, according to WWD. “I have had the most extraordinary experience working with some of the most talented and brilliant photographers, artists, and editors in the world, and these collaborations have brought me unbelievable joy and satisfaction,” said Freedman. “For me, this has been one of the greatest opportunities I could ever hope for.”
  • A team led by Pentagram’s Paula Scher has transformed a Brooklyn charter school with bold environmental graphics. The project, a collaboration with Rogers Marvel Architects, celebrates language with motivational supergraphics that define the school’s interior spaces. Taste the rainbow.

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    Erdem Wins Britain’s First Vogue Fashion Fund


    It’s Erdem! Montreal-born, London-based designer Erdem Moralioglu, designer of the eponymous color- and print-infused ready-to-wear line, has won the inaugural British Fashion Council (BFC)/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund award. The new transatlantic version of the career-making CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize bestows upon the winner £200,000 (approximately $300,000) and a year of industry mentoring that the BFC charmingly describes as a “bespoke mentoring programme.” Also shortlisted for the award were Angel Jackson, Christopher Kane, Clements Ribeiro, E. Tautz, Marios Schwab, Nicholas Kirkwood, and Richard Nicoll. A judging panel chaired by British Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman chose Moralioglu based on his “strong design signature and clear vision for the immediate development and growth of his business,” according to a statement issued today by the BFC. “In Erdem I feel we have a very worthy winner who already has an international reputation and who has the creativity and application that is needed to become a global business,” said Shulman. “He makes beautiful clothes that already have a recognizable stamp that is his alone.” As for the design signatures of his five-year-old label, Moralioglu has described them as “Color, optimism, and oddities.”

    Previously on UnBeige:

  • Sophie Théallet Wins $200K CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Prize
  • Architecture, the Least Ageist Profession?


    Speaking of I.M. Pei, here’s a brief but interesting post over at the Atlantic by historian Edward Tenner about architecture being one of the few remaining professions that age isn’t considered a detriment. Used to be, Tenner says, we would value the wisdom and experience of those middle-aged and beyond, but that’s been in steep decline over the past half dozen decades as technology innovation became one of our central focuses. However, architecture, at least with those with starchitect credentials, seem to have gotten off easier, with many/most still revered, their projects deemed relevant. and still gainfully employed and creating new work. Tenner takes Frank Gehry (now 81) just having landed the commission to design the new Eisenhower Memorial as his jumping off point and goes from there, listing some other famous older architects still in the game:

    Gehry is not the first great octogenarian of his profession. Listen to Philip Johnson in the early 1990s. I.M. Pei is still going strong at 83, Oscar Niemeyer (maybe a bit slower) at 102. And think of Frank Lloyd Wright (whom I discussed in an earlier post on retirement) and Buckminster Fuller. Another superstar, Viktor Schreckengost, who created the first academic industrial design program in the 1930s and was celebrated for everything from ceramics to bicycles, lived to 102.

    PBS’ American Masters Documentary on I.M. Pei, Tonight

    What are you doing tonight around 9pm Eastern? If it’s not sitting in front of the television, then we don’t want to hear about it. All our readers worth their salt will be tuned into PBS to catch the American Masters episode on legendary architect and Pritzker winner, I.M. Pei. You’ll find a preview below and here’s an interview with Anne Makepeace, the episode’s writer/director and here’s one with the film’s producer, Eugene Shirley.

    With Decreased Sales Due to No New Harry Potter Books to Sell, Bloomsbury Announces News of Redesigned Harry Potter Books


    If it makes you feel old to learn that the Harry Potter books are going to be released soon with new covers, intended to “appeal to the next generation of readers who did not grow up” with the series, because you felt twenty to thirty years too old to have anything to do with them when they were first released, know that you aren’t alone. But such is the case with publisher Bloomsbury, who have announced a new “Signature” edition of J.K. Rowling‘s insanely popular books (PDF), which are set to be released on November 1st. No coincidence at all that this announcement came immediately at the same time as the company released its sales figures for the previous year, showing a 39% decline thanks to not having a new Potter book out there in stores. The new covers can all be seen here (this is just for the UK editions, remember) and here’s a bit from a post on the design by the firm who handled the job, Webb & Webb:

    We set about designing the series, which includes a unique Harry Potter signature, following on from our successful Comic Relief covers last year. After presenting several ideas we asked Clare Melinsky to illustrate the front, back and spine for all seven titles in the series. We think you’ll agree the results are magical!

    The Slow Death of Freelance Photography


    As regular freelancers ourselves, we’ve likely suffered many of the same fears as a lot of our readers. Despite there being an ever increasing amount of outlets that need material, technology has allowed it to be far more easily and cheaply created, driving down the fees that professional creatives are able to charge. Although most of the time you’ll find that just because your friend’s cousin has a copy of Photoshop doesn’t mean what he’ll turn out is any good, the fact that he’s there can alter the whole industry. So while it’s interesting, it’s not very pleasant to read Stephanie Clifford‘s piece about struggling shooters in her piece for the NY Times‘, “For Photographers, the Image of a Shrinking Path.” Clifford talks about the big bite taken out of that particular freelance market, to the accessibility of good digital cameras, magazines folding and advertisers cutting back, and stock companies branching out to get more material and paying creators less because of it. Like we said, it won’t be a pleasant read, since you can find corollaries in almost any creative profession ($99 logos, anyone?) but it’s worth the reality check. Here’s a bit we found interesting:

    In 2005, Getty Images licensed 1.4 million preshot commercial photos. Last year, it licensed 22 million — and “all of the growth was through our user-generated business,” [CEO of Getty, Jonathan Klein] said.

    That is because amateurs are largely happy to be paid anything for their photos. “People that don’t have to make a living from photography and do it as a hobby don’t feel the need to charge a reasonable rate,” [photographer Matt Eich] said.

    Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill Tool, Used for Both Good and Evil

    Currently making the rounds in a hurry among the designer set is this sneak preview Adobe has released of Photoshop CS 5′s new Content-Aware Fill tool, which uses some sort of super-complicated math stuffs in order to make removing objects from photos, or expanding edges, much, much easier than it is now. If you’re like us, and you’re able to get over your cynicism and believe this could actually work outside of their sample images, it’s enough to make you drool.

    However, should this new smart tool actually work as well as in those examples, there runs a risk of it being used for nefarious purposes by the lazy.

    Cartoonist Jeff Koterba’s Illustrations to Take Space Shuttle Flight


    Like when the President uses piles of pens to sign an historic bill, the taking of objects into space doesn’t really alter anything tangible, it just attaches a sort of fun significance that hadn’t been there before. Such is the case with astronaut Clayton Anderson, who is set to head out on on of the final Space Shuttle missions come April 5th, and will be bringing with him a variety of miscellaneous items, including two illustrations by the Omaha World-Herald‘s cartoonist, Jeff Koterba. Fellow artist, Rod Tornoe of the Political Cartoonists Index spoke with Koterba, asking him what it’ll feel like knowing his work is out there among the stars, as well as just how exactly he got the opportunity in the first place. Here’s his answer for the latter:

    Clayton Anderson, the only Nebraska-born astronaut, will be flying on the upcoming shuttle flight Discovery. I first “met” him in 2007 when he emailed me from the International Space Station to tell me how much he enjoyed a cartoon I had drawn about him. Since then we’ve kept in touch. Last fall he invited me to draw two cartoons that he could take on the the shuttle — he suggested that one cartoon be given to my newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald, and the other I could keep for myself. So the cartoon for myself has to do with Dogie the Doggie.

    Revolving Door: Guardian Creative Director Mark Porter Resigns


    While Neville Brody might be doing some arriving, there’s also some high-profile leaving going on in the UK this week. Late Friday of last week, the Guardian announced some movement within their editorial management ranks, including the news that their long-time creative director, Mark Porter, was planning to exit the company come mid-April. Porter has been with the paper for 14 years and had been central to both its several major print redesigns, as well as its push onto the internet and, more recently, into mobile. Not an acrimonious exit at all, instead, Porter also made the announcement on his blog as the paper released its news on their site, saying “I’ve been here a long time and I’m beginning to feel like I’ve done it all, most of it several times over. So it’s time to move on.” That moving on he explained further over the weekend, again on his blog, saying his plan is to go freelance, but still largely within the newspaper business, staying “small, fast, and flexible” in his new career.

    Revolving Door: Neville Brody to Become Art & Design Head at Royal College of Art


    Having long ago become a reigning king of type design, album covers, and nearly everything in between, the uber-famous designer Neville Brody is now planning to take over education. It’s been announced that Brody will be taking on the role of Head of the Department of Communication Art & Design at the renowned Royal College of Art in London. The designer had already been involved in teaching, currently working as a visiting professor at his alma mater, the London College of Communications, but now he’ll step into a bigger role, overseeing all of the RCA’s art and design programs. Here’s what he had to say in the announcement:

    “The position is a great honour and challenge. The Royal College of Art sits at the threshold of a new and vital moment in communications history, an extraordinary time and one that will deeply affect all of us. I am excited by this possibility of joining of the dots — of combining the RCA’s deep sense of history, craft and experience with a dynamic, relevant and exploratory approach to art and design communications. The RCA is a centre of excellence for art and design, and is the de facto natural home for all visual communications.”

    Brody steps into the role as of January 1st of next year. He’ll be replacing the current head of the department, Dan Fern, who is retiring.

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