Monthly Archives: January 2017

Comic Sans: The Man Behind the World’s Most Contentious Font

Ha, bless him.
Great Big Stories interviewed designer Vincent Connare as part of a Frontiers series. It’s a must watch, as aside from the hilarity of Comic Sans, I really love the animation and art direction in this video!

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Spotlight: Michał Kulesza

Graphic designer Michał Kulesza has a range of different work in his portfolio, but the Lego projects he has created certainly stand out. In 2015 Kulesza created a ‘Lego photo project’ by capturing every day objects featuring parts made with Lego, in part 1 ‘Daily Lego Project’. The project started in 2015 and lasted 135 days, capturing a new scenario every day.

I created different grotesque or even absurd daily situations. I took photos in minimal composition and every time I showed new ideas. In my work I just wanted to make people smile.

You can view all the images here, but here are a few of my favourites:

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Part 2 of the project, named ‘Legoman Daily’ features a narrative where Kulesza falls into a box of Lego whilst photographing Part 1 of the project, and subsequently turns into a Legoman himself!

The surprising effect of this crash was that my hands and head were transformed into parts of lego man figure. In this way I created an everyday photo journal after weird accident. How I have to struggle with life challenges and how looks my sad reality. Project was realised as previous, everyday I took just one photo for 106 days.
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I love these projects! Both the concept, the narrative and the output are fantastic, and it certainly made me smile.
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Instagram vs. Snapchat vs. Facebook

Back in late 2016 Facebook launched augmented reality selfie masks for Live video – much like the already very popular Snapchat filters. Facebook acquired MSQRD in March 2016, and briefly tested using a similar technology with Olympic-themed masks for traditional photos and videos (only in Canada and Brazil).
I’ve never actually gone Live on Facebook, so I can’t say I’ve tried this feature myself, but I am a huge Snapchat user, and a big fan of the filters. Facebook is now apparently communicating with Hollywood studios to use the animated masks to promote big-budget movies on Facebook. As mentioned above, Facebook already allows filters over the Live videos, but unlike Snapchat brands have not been allowed to feature their own filters.

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Snapchat popularised augmented reality in mobile messaging back in the day – they are the OGs of mask filters – and have had a tone of brands using their service to promote their brand or campaign. The difference between Snapchat and Facebook (and Instagram) is that Facebook and Instagram reach far bigger audiences, whereas Snapchat is seen as a platform for friends.
This isn’t the only feature Facebook has “stolen” from Snapchat – Facebook previously put a Stories section on Instagram, and are currently testing a similar section in its Facebook app. Facebook’s Stories include augmented reality special effects, but that test is currently only limited to Ireland.

Its been stated that marketers and brands prefer the stories feature on Instagram, because Snapchat doesn’t embrace brands the way Instagram does. Instagram makes it easy to follow brands and like their posts – there’s no ‘like’ features on Snapchat, and it’s harder to follow accounts because users have to know exact names to find them (something I find very annoying…). Instagram’s search UI is far superior, in my opinion.
Dan Grossman, vice president of platform partnerships at VaynerMedia summed up the difference pretty well:

Instagram is a follower platform where Snapchat is more of a best friend platform. Snapchat hasn’t encouraged brands to build up huge followings.

As a Snapchat fan, when Instagram first rolled out the Stories feature, I was very hesitant. Now, I actually forget to use Snapchat and usually head for Instagram Stories to post my daily activities. The amount of money Facebook are putting into these new app features are, in my opinion, going to destroy Snapchat. Why would I use 2 platforms that do the same thing, when I can just use one? It’s likely that Facebook and Instagram will link their publishing of stories at some point.

(P.S. that is not me in the header image)
(P.P.S I’ve never written “Facebook” so many times in my life)

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Hollywood is Deeply Failing Those with Mental Health

A few weeks ago I was sitting at home, watching ads in the break of whatever TV show was on at the time. I found myself both saddened, cringing and wanting to change the channel – the ‘Split’ movie trailer was being aired. As someone who isn’t a fan of horror films, I’d usually never pay attention to trailers that do not interest me, however it was impossible to ignore the clear demonisation and offensive narrative created by M. Night Shyamalan.

From start to finish, James McAvoy provides a performance (an outstanding one, however) that is detrimental to those suffering from mental health, and more specifically dissociative identity disorder (DID). The character, Kevin, has obtained DID from childhood trauma, which is both a Hollywood classic and highly inaccurate assumption of the causes of DID. Most importantly is the overt and presumptive link between mental health and violence, stringed by Hitchcock in the 1960s (e.g. ‘Psycho’) but replicated in hundreds of movie plots, such as Rear Window, Betty Blue,High Tension, Fight Club, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The Shining, Silence of the Lambs… the list goes on!
Why should we care about the plots in horror films? Isn’t it all clearly an over-dramatic, scripted fantasy that has no attribution to real life? Well, thousands have already signed a petition to boycott Split because “at a time when so much attention is being paid to mental illness and gender identity, we’ve reduced both conversations to a horror movie trope.” I couldn’t agree more! The film and TV industry has progressed enormously in the representation of gender, sexuality and race (although there is a very long way to go, but that’s a whole other story), but has seriously failed those with mental health problems. Despite organisations and campaigns for mental health being heard more and more in the 21st century, Hollywood has remained obsessed with narratives including schizophrenics who murder, rape and torture random victims.

Aside from the representation of DID in ‘Split’, the most common mental health condition used in horror films is schizophrenia, and characters with mental health are being depicted as more demonic and crueler than at any time in movie history, according to a report for mental health charity Time to Change.

Psychiatrist and film expert Dr Peter Byrne says:

This is omnipresent in cinema misrepresentations – the psycho killer is immortal and sadistic, motivated by madness – in almost all psychosis films, that character will kill.

The report highlights something really important – that the main source of information about mental health is from films. That is scary and highly damaging. Unfortunately, the mass media shapes people’s ideas about mental illness, and whilst British soaps contribute a lot of their story lines to mental health, the horror film directors and producers are yet to follow suit.
Little discussion of sympathy towards mental health is depicted in Hollywood horror, apart from the exception ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. In 1975, a time of little understanding or discussion of mental health, a film sympathetic to the mentally ill managed to win all five of the Academy’s top awards. Hollywood (well, some of it) took note: compassion can pay, and gave us films depicting empathy towards mental health like A Beautiful Mind, Shine, Rain Man, Adam, The Aviator, The Black Balloon, Séraphine, Keane, Away from Her and Girl, Interrupted. That being said, take those examples with a pinch of salt, as the characters were not accurately or correctly represented, but still contained sympathy rather than demonisation, which is really important.

One of my favourite films, ‘Shutter Island’, has received a mixed response from those concerned about mental health. Set in the 1950s, when psychiatry involved barbaric practices like lobotomy, electric shock and incarceration (scenes I found incredibly upsetting to watch), the film is based on a best-selling novel by Dennis Lehane published in 2003. Scorsese was out to create high drama and to maximise emotional impact – but how could he do this without becoming yet another director taking advantage of mental health? Before filming, Scorsese’s intense research included appointing his own psychiatrist, Professor James Gilligan, who specialised in violent psychosis. The character Dr Cawley is actually based on Dr Gilligan, who in fact was the director of a Massachusetts prison hospital for the criminally insane (much like the one depicted in the film) in the 1970s. Dr Gilligan wanted to protect the image of psychosocial treatments, and was pleased by the historical accuracy in ‘Shutter Island’, but not so pleased with the script itself. Dr Cawley’s treatment of Teddy Daniels was highly inaccurate, as his attempts to shock Teddy out of his delusion were done by enabling him to act it out. This would never happen. Despite the highly empathic narrative and the fantastic performance by DiCaprio, Teddy is still represented as a murdering maniac. However, Dr Gilligan believes that the plot is:

a kind of metaphor for psychosocial methods of treatment as opposed to damaging the brain.

So, ‘Shutter Island’ was successful at portraying the inhumane practices in mental health hospitals, but in the end, movies are drawn to madness because it’s scary. Horror fans eat that up.

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Hollywood needs to focus less on the fear-factor and presumption of traumatic etiology in mental health, the misrepresentation of psychologists themselves, and more on the authentic experiences those with bipolar disorder, DID, schizophrenia etc. experience. Hollywood has a responsibility to steer away from harmful stigmas about mental illness.

Here’s a list of films that have been praised for avoiding the sensationalism of mental health narratives:

Silver Linings Playbook
Clean, Shaven
The Hours
A Beautiful Mind
Christine

Have a watch! And next time you want to spend your hard earned money on a horror flick, think about what kind of industry you are supporting. Mental health is so common, you will undoubtedly have a friend or family member who suffers and/or has been diagnosed. By supporting films like ‘Split’, you are halting the progression of destigmatising mental health, and that deeply effects people like me.

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Brand Identity: Kaibosh

Design agency Snask were commissioned by Norweigen eyewear company Kaibosh to create a brand identity for both their general campaign and for in-store design. Encompassing the requirements from Kaibosh, Snask created an identity using a custom typeface (Sentrum) and bold icons for a colourful, fashionable and expressive rebrand.

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I love this! “Eyes before guys” ha!

The brand and tonality was translated into visual form and matched with a custom-made display typeface, named Sentrum, made to suit the in-store signage. We added two eyelashes as a symbol to distinguish the identity and to use as graphic elements for many different scenarios. We created the entire flagship store with shelving systems, signage, colours, murals, etc. The project ranged from a typeface and still life photos to campaigns, fashion photography, notebooks and towels.

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Mainframe: For Approval

Look at those renders. Motion Graphics studio Mainframe took an idea for a downtime project by using recognised objects and movements, and turned them on their head. For Approval is a combination of seamless motion graphics elevated by the work of sound designer Max Greening. Chris Hardcastle (Mainframe, Manchester) says that the concept was “simply to subvert the physical properties of objects and materials and have some fun with a viewer’s expectations of how those things should behave”.

I could literally watch this on loop all day. Also, love the art direction.

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Netflix: The Art of Design

HELLO! Yes please.
New documentary series ‘Abstract: The Art of Design’ will feature designers Paula Scher (Pentagram), Bjarke Ingels (Danish architect), illustrator and graphic designer Christoph Niemann, stage designer Es Devlin and the shoe designer behind Nike’s self-lacing trainers, Tinker Hatfield.

Looks interesting. Anything with Paula Scher.

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The Standing “O”

Creative agency Deep Focus created a micro-site to say thank you to our favourite president, Obama. The site The Standing “O” contains user-submitted GIFs of people giving Obama a standing ovation, creating a mosaic of Obama himself.

As President Obama’s time in office comes to an end, we wanted to send him off properly – by bringing the world together for one last standing ovation. Join us in #TheStandingO.

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The micro-site allows users to submit a GIF, zoom in to the mosaic and select individual gifs to view. Deep Focus partnered with Giphy and NowThis to collect the GIFs, or videos (that were then turned into GIFs by the agency’s team) of people applauding Obama, which were then moderated to make sure they were not offensive. Algorithms placed the GIFs in the photo of Obama based on colour schemes to create the wonderful tribute wall to the 44th President.

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