In our digital age, the power of objects crafted by hand is more compelling than ever. If traditional media has recently become newly popular in the graphic arts, the ancient artisanal practice of sign painting, at one time nearly extinct, also seems to be making something of a comeback. Sign Painters, a documentary film and book by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon, takes a look at the work and practices of more than two dozen American sign painters. The film's website lists upcoming screenings and sign painter sites, examples from which I've posted below, along with the trailer for the movie.
So where do you go when you're in the mood to browse the design work of others, whether for inspiration or just out of idle curiosity? Behance would probably be your first place to start, perhaps followed by Dribble. After that you'd have your pick of second-tier sites, such as Designspiration, Fubitz and Minimalissimo. But what if you could search all these sites at once from a single point? That's the premise behind the Niice.co site, which aggregates images from all these, with more on the way. It's still in beta and doesn't always return the results you'd expect, as well as sometimes slowing to a crawl, but it would seem to be a move in the right direction.
The process of rotoscoping was invented almost 100 years ago by the talented American animator Max Fleischer. The process is a simple one, in which animators draw over footage to provide a realistic sense of motion. If this sounds like a primitive version of mocap, you're right. Rewind to 2013, with Adobe now showing off the rotoscoping capabilities of After Effects, past, present and future.
It would seem that sometimes even when you win, you lose. If Ang Lee's Life of Pi cleaned up at the box office and then swept the Oscars, this was in no small part due to the movie's masterful mix of live action and digital effects. These were created by veteran effects firm Rhythm & Hues which, despite its evident expertise, last week filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and fired 250 employees.
That's right, today is the birthday of the King of Pop, that master shapeshifter who spent his career exploring the intersection of popular culture, art and commerce. Mostly commerce, it would seem, since last year he remained the top-selling artist at auction. Sales of his work hit $381 million, with the wily old master Pablo Picasso coming in a close second at $370 million, trailed by Gerhard Richter, whose dour opus inexplicably found buyers willing to shell out $299 million. Yup, that adds up to a cool billion. Crisis, what crisis? For you and me maybe but apparently not for the happy few. Oh well, no point being bitter. Of the three, Warhol was by far the most amusing (I think in particular of his urine paintings), so why not join in the festivities by using EarthCam to experience live views of the exhibits inside The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Nothing happening, you say? Boring? Ha! You have obviously not experienced Warhol's epic Sleep movie, which consists of five hours of someone sleeping. Try sitting through that.
Illustration of course has a long and rich history, so how could it be compressed into just a seven-minute presentation? Only by blazing through the high points at lightning speed, which is exactly what the latest episode in the PBS Off Book series covering art, design and culture does. The effect is rather dizzying but there's some interesting work presented — as long as you can hit the Pause button fast enough to get a chance to really look at it. I've posted a few favorites below.
Are we living in the golden age of typography, or what? Whether for print or digital, we now have incredible control over how we can create with type. And as for the fonts themselves, the OpenType format continues to surprise with the creative possibilities it brings. When it comes to choice, the selection is now so wide, thanks to an apparently unstoppable flood of new offerings, that it's easy to get lost in the delightful task of finding the perfect font for a project. But beyond new font designs, there are of course more than a few reinterpretations of the classics. And even the occasional discovery of "lost" typefaces.
The idea of a blank piece of paper is somehow a touchstone for all our hopes and fears. Each new analog sheet or digital file holds out the possibility of creating something fresh that matters, that can make a difference. With the flip side being yet another flawed creation that falls short. But the prospect of failure is not enough to keep us from constantly engaging and making the first difficult mark on that disturbing expanse of whiteness. It's from this struggle that paper company Arjowiggins Creative Papers launched its Blank Sheet Project in 2010, in association with D&AD.
Each year Pantone reveals its Color of the Year, a prediction of which color it thinks will be particularly significant in the months to come. Last year it was Tangerine Tango, which I don't recall being particularly pervasive, while this year it's Emerald. So how does this oracular pronouncement come to be?
Sure, times are still tough and the forces of neoliberal capitalism continue to run roughshod over the planet. But is that any reason to despair? I should say not. After all, the good guys are still out there beavering away on projects of benefit to the common good. Case in point is The Noun Project, which is dedicated to "building a global visual language that everyone can understand."