Posts Tagged ‘Illustration’

Refined Manners

Thursday, July 24th, 2014
London Guide, Herb Lester Associates, Anna Hurley, 2013

London Guide, Herb Lester Associates, Anna Hurley, 2013

Here’s one of the differences between being a surgeon and a designer: surgeons are required to be meticulous and have an OCD level to details. If they are, in most probability, people live and have healthy outcomes. Designers are required to be meticulous and have an OCD level to details also. If we are, nobody except another OCD designer notices. The upside is that bad word-spacing doesn’t kill people.

I can spend hours kerning the crap out of a headline. Does anyone apart from me care, or notice? Probably not. We zoom in to a gazillion percent to make sure a point is absolutely precise, obsess over the difference between Adobe Bodoni and Monotype Bodoni. But of we didn’t, we’d be slobs and hack designers, and it wouldn’t be as much fun.

Herb Lester Associates produces a wonderful collection of guides to different cities. Let’s face it, most city guides look like the Map to the Stars Homes. The Herb Lester guides are not only pertinent to travelers who prefer something more interesting than mobbed, but are detailed to death. Every tiny piece of type has been considered. The illustrations are wonderful and change from map to map. I know the designers were working on a the files at 400%, and it shows. Even the packing tape on the envelope is a work of art (which I plan to steal).

In this instance, I noticed. Every thoughtful and beautifully crafted detail adds to the overall extraordinariness of the guides. The lesson here, go ahead and fine tune the shit out of the details. If only one person in the world sees it, you’ve succeeded.

Scan-7Scan9Scan-5 Scan-6 Scan-4 Scan-2 Scan-1 Scan-copy

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Two Heads are Better Than One

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Richard Amsel, The Shootist, illustration

Years ago, we designed a manual for Hanna-Barbera. We wanted to show an example of a shirt using Hanna-Barbera characters such as Fred Flintstone. But there was a standing rule that an “A” character such as Fred Flintstone always was accompanied by a “B” and “C” character. I put Fred’s head on the shirt and surrounded him with Hong Kong Phooey’s head and Ma Kettle’s head. To me it looked great. Noreen pointed out it looked like a multiple personality disorder, or The Three Faces of Fred Flintstone.

I love illustration that uses multiple heads. Even better is illustration that has things growing out of people’s heads. I understand the need to convey multiple characters and a scene. Both of these devices do this. I like the idea of someone else’s head growing out of your own like a mutant twin. This was a popular device in the 1970s and 80s. Now think about this, it’s not easy to make it look as effortless and make sense. Both Bob Peak and Richard Amsel were masters of this. I urge all movie poster designers to return to this device. I want to see a poster of the Twilight characters all growing out of the side of one person’s head.

Richard Amsel, Hello Dolly, illustration

 

Richard Amsel, Nijinsky, illustration

Richard Amsel, Murder on the Orient Express, illustration

Richard Amsel, Woodstock, illustration

Richard Amsel, The Voyage of The Damned, illustration

Richard Amsel, The Seven Percent Solution, illustration

Richard Amsel, Death on the Nile, illustration

Richard Amsel, Flash Gordon, illustration

Richard Amsel, Raiders of the Lost Ark, illustration

Bob Peak, Apocalypse Now, illustration

 

 

An Encyclopedic Photographic Memory of Ephemera

Friday, December 21st, 2012

New York World's Fair book illustration, 1964

I enjoy accusing others of illiteracy. “Don’t you people read?” I ask my students. “If you’d read the copy, you’d understand why the image works,” I say to clients, but in a nicer way. “For the love of God put down that iPhone and get a book,” I tell my niece and nephews. Then I find I am as guilty of the same sin.

I have a book about the 1964 World’s Fair. I’ve never read it. I do, however, know each and every illustration, color palette, and photograph in the book. Who knows what it is about? I’m too distracted by the tiny drawings on divider pages. To make matters worse, I deconstruct the meaning of the imagery. And I make odd connections that require an encyclopedic photographic memory of ephemera. Fortunately, I have this. For example, the overview of the Fair is surprisingly similar to the layout of Epcot, which is a sort of permanent world’s fair (or beer walk, depending on your interest.) Finally, the color palette for the fair preview images is exactly the same as the preview book for Walt Disney World, published a few years later. Coincidence? You be the judge.

New York World's Fair book map illustration, 1964

 

New York World's Fair book, illustration, 1964

 

New York World's Fair book, illustration, 1964

 

New York World's Fair book, illustration, 1964

 

New York World's Fair book, illustration, 1964

 

New York World's Fair book, illustration, 1964

 

New York World's Fair overview 1964

 

Epcot, from above, via Google Earth

 

New York World's Fair book, illustration, 1964

 

Walt Disney World Preview Book, 1970

Putting the Gloss onto Glossy

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Philip Castle, Farrah Fawcett

Lately, I’m missing shiny. After two decades of adhering to the flat world, I’ve begun to admire the shiny stuff. For years, clients asked for shiny and sparkly type in three dimensions on every motion design project. Of course, we didn’t do that. We took the opposite point of view, focusing on the simple forms and lack of ostentation. So, why now, am I drawn to airbrush illustration of the 1970s and 80s? Everything in these images is so clean. Even skin is glossy because it’s so pure.

I assume the crystal clear, high gloss approach was a reaction against the earthy and organic design of the 1970s. Much of the airbrush work was done for the music industry at the time. The crunchy political music was replaced by slick disco that celebrated hedonism. So it makes sense that the illustration would also celebrate a slick veneer and present sex, fast cars, and youth as the subjects.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that our Eames conference table at the studio was too matte. Somebody had repeatedly cleaned it with 409 or Windex. That’s not so good with wood. So I brought in my trusty wood oils and wax. After one application of oil, the table still seemed dry and flat, so I flooded the surface with it. “I’ll let this sit overnight and soak in,” I thought. Unfortunately, I didn’t count on someone using the conference room for a meeting. Since I am one of the owners, I couldn’t be fired. But, if I weren’t, oh boy I’d be out the door fast. People don’t like oil soaking onto their shirts and presentations.

Peter Palombi, Nature By the Pack, 1976

 

Hajime Sorayama

 

Peter Lloyd, Caddy Girl, 1985

 

Peter Lloyd, Viva magazine, 1974

 

Goro Shimaoka, 1983

 

Toshikuni Okubo, 1984

 

Yosuke Onishi, 1983

 

David Willardson, The Uncola, 1977

 

David Willardson, Thelma Houston, 1974

Artists and Models

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Joseph Christian Leyendecker: Arrow Shirt Collars ad

It frightens me when students don’t know Norman Rockwell. Before Norman Rockwell became America’s favorite illustrator, J.C. Leyendecker held that position. So, for those of you who are yearning for important illustration history, here it is:

Leyendecker is best known for his Arrow Collar ads and Saturday Evening Post covers. Leyendecker, however, is largely forgotten outside the illustration community. The story behind this is an untapped mini-series.

Leyendecker immigrated to America in 1882. He went to the Chicago Art Institute and later moved to New York with his brother and sister. In 1903, he met Charles Beach, who became his favorite model and lover. Beach was the Arrow Collar man, and received fan mail from across the country. Leyendecker reached the height of his success during the 1920s. Leyendecker and Beach lived lavishly, hosting scandalous parties with New York’s social set. Leyendecker’s brother, Frank, was also rumored to be gay. In the early 1920s, Frank and his sister, Mary, had a spectacular falling out with Leyendecker and Beach. The row ended with Mary spitting in Beach’s face. They moved away, and Frank died alone one year later.

Leyendecker left Manhattan, and purchased a large estate in New Rochelle with a staff of servants. During the 1930s, Leyendecker’s commissions began to slow, and he was forced to scale back his lifestyle. Yes, it’s awful, but he had to let the staff go. He and Beach continued to maintain the estate alone. At some point here, Beach began to limit Leyendecker’s contact with the outside world, and vice versa. Norman Rockwell, a longtime friend, complained that Beach had, “built a wall around him.” In 1951, Leyendecker died with Beach at his side. His funeral was sparsely attended. Whether this was due to his sexual orientation, or the wall Beach had built is speculation. Rockwell, however, did attend and served as a pallbearer. Leyendecker left instructions for Beach to destroy everything. Fortunately, he stopped at discarding the paintings and sketches. He sold these at a yard sale for the high price of seven dollars. In 2004, Christies sold a Leyendecker painting for $209,100.00.

Joseph Christian Leyendecker, Charles Beach model

Joseph Christian Leyendecker, The Courtship

Joseph Christian Leyendecker, Saturday Evening Post, 1919

Joseph Christian Leyendecker, Parade

Joseph Christian Leyendecker, Colliers, 1916

Joseph Christian Leyendecker: Arrow Shirt Collars ad

Joseph Christian Leyendecker: Couple Descending Stairs, Arrow Shirt Collars

Joseph Christian Leyendecker, Scribner's, Harvard University Rowing 1906

Joseph Christian Leyendecker, Saturday Evening Post, 1932

Joseph Christian Leyendecker, Saturday Evening Post, 1931