Category Archives: art

Squarespace: Make It | ManvsMachine

It’s very rate that I see a campaign that is visually and conceptually integrated seamlessly across all mediums of the campaign, but ManvsMachine has (once again) created something that has a strong and stunning visual identity.
Design and motion studio ManvsMachine are one of my favourite creative teams, and they were commissioned to work with Squarespace on the “Make It” campaign. They worked closely with the Squarespace team to create three commercials for their 2017 campaign: “each film is a tactile-take on the online experience —Blurring the lines between digital and physical, in a playful showcase of three iconic creatives & their worlds”.

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The short films feature fashion designer Sadie Williams, artist Daniel Arsham and chef, Danny Bowien. It’s rare that a TV ad produces such gorgeous stills that could be used across the rest of the campaign – it goes to show how great ManvsMachine’s creative process is.
This flows nicely into the campaign imagery for digital content featuring “still life” scenes, showcasing the brand’s platform within the context of its users. The brief focused on “Digital made Physical” and the visual narratives successfully convey the brand’s bespoke features.

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ManvsMachine’s iconic abstract and crafted style is so visually wonderful and is the perfect fit for a Squarespace campaign. The seamless aesthetic bridges the gap between reality and 3D (as their work always does) which was brought to life by using a wide range of software and hardware including Cinema 4D, Houdini, Maya, ZBrush, Redshift, Agisoft Photoscan, After Effects, Nuke… I recommend looking at their design process – these are a few snapshots:

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It is very, VERY rare I see a banner and think “wow, I really like that”, especially after having to design hundreds of drab banners myself, but even the design for the banner ads are amazing! I’ve never thought a banner is amazing!

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Having complete creative control, ManvsMachine were in charge of concept, design and direction, which was rolled across digital, social, TV spots and OOH. I can’t emphasise how refreshing it is to see such a visually beautiful campaign. This is how its done!!!

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Fortnum & Mason: Adam & Steve | Valentine’s Day

In the last 5 years, as each February goes by I notice a gradual increase in the amount of same-sex Valentine’s Day cards being sold (in the UK). Last year Sainsbury’s sold its first range of Valentine’s Day cards aimed at same-sex couples, along with a very small range of independent and “quirky” gift shops selling same-sex Valentine’s gifts and cards.

I have always seen Fortnum & Mason as a store that is very much behind the times based on the fact that they continue to produce and sell foie gras, despite its barbaric and archaic production methods. Fortnum & Mason holds a royal warrant as a supplier of goods to the royal family, and has never showed any interest in changing their traditional custom despite criticism (and protests) for years. However, the brand has listened to its public in a different area of concern regarding the representation of gay and lesbian relationships, by creating a set of Valentine’s Day biscuits for gay, lesbian and straight couples:

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The Garden of Eden-style biscuits feature “Adam and Steve”, “Eve and Niamh” (pronounced “Neve”) and the traditional Biblical version, “Adam and Eve”. The “Adam and Steve” tin sold out almost immediately, and at £15 a tin with each biscuit delicately hand-iced I can certainly see why!

Fortnum’s has always been for everyone, with excellent taste, and we are delighted with the response to this collection. We can’t think of better biscuits to enjoy with a cup of tea this Valentine’s Day.

This product launch could be in reference to the common phrase many Bible bashers use: “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” – something I was once told by a classmate at art college, can you believe!!! The phrase has often been used by religious, homophobic politicians in parliament when arguing against equal marriage. It’s nice that Fortnum & Mason have created a product to celebrate love and turn that awful phrase on its head into something positive.

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Tinder: Invention of Together

Production company Buck have worked with Tinder to create this adorable animation for the dating app. It’s a far cry from what I would expect from Tinder, but the “history of man and woman” concept works really well. It seems Tinder are trying to move away from being seen as a hookup app, and more about finding someone with a connection:

In this epic history of man and womankind’s eternal struggle to couple… and do other things, the good folks at Tinder let us get our art on to create a luscious world where people have wonderbutts… and the same face.

Will this animation help the apps reputation? I’m not so sure… but from a creative perspective it’s a fantastic narrative with strong connotations towards the evolution of man and woman both physically and emotionally. ‘Invention of Together’ shows how thousands of years ago choosing who you wanted to date or love wasn’t an option – the narrative explores forced marriages, religious and moral differences – but now with the freedom to date who we want, Tinder aims to make this even easier to build new connections. We see a nod to the struggles of having homophobic parents and the celebration of the legalisation of interracial marriage.

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I recommend looking at Buck’s development section on their website to see the process of the wonderful character design. Buck used physical sets with computer generated characters, which required a month of shooting and eight weeks of postproduction. They really committed to the idea of evolution of man and woman by making each of the characters from the same body: “One of the concepts that we had was that all of mankind is from the same place and I guess to make the characters feel like they were all one family. So if you watch, the caveman [bodies] are the same as the modern-day characters’ [bodies]”:

The film will be rolled out online globally, following its debut in South Korea in December 2017. You can also see some awesome BTS shoots here.

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OkCupid: DTF

Ad agency Wieden + Kennedy (New York) were commissioned by dating service OkCupid to create a new campaign. Online dating has created a whole new set of vocabulary for millenials, like “ghosting” (ignoring someone), “nudes” (sending unsolicited naked photos), “catfish” (creating fake profiles) and “DTF” (“down to f*ck”). Using these common problems that online daters experience, the concept focuses on trying to rid the stigma of “hookup sites” and the dehumanisation of modern dating.

OkCupid’s CMO Melissa Hobley said:

In the current political and social climate, we felt a responsibility and saw an opportunity to play a part in changing the conversation about dating culture and empowering each individual to reclaim the meaning of DTF and make it theirs.

With this as the aim of the campaign, W+K used the phrase “DTF” and turned it into “down to <insert activity or interest here>”, such as “DTFight over the president”, “DTFinish my novel” and “DTFoot the bill”:

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OkCupid’s change in approach towards online dating aims to achieve substance and depth through the app’s new features, as it recently rolled out OkCupid Discovery, which lets users search by passions and interests. Interestingly, one of these is adding a “Trump filter”, which directly correlates with this campaign’s brand voice, particularly with the political references in some of the ads (above).

The photography for the campaign was shot by artists Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari, the creators of Toilet Paper magazine. Cattelan and Ferrari have a unique and recognisable aesthetic, always creating work that is brightly coloured and resembles old-school fashion advertisements. I absolutely love what they have created.
The playful nature of the art direction focuses on the fun and romantic sides of dating, rather than the historically misogynistic and disposable aspects that “DTF” dating apps (like Tinder and Grindr) have adopted. Each colourful ad is illustrated with an image against a flat, bright-hued background, making every image seem like a work of art.

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The ads will initially be rolled out in New York subways, and will eventually be displayed all over the USA. This is actually OkCupid’s first ever ad campaign which includes bus wraps, coffee sleeves, OOH posters and digital posts. The tagline “dating deserves better” is part of OkCupid’s efforts to market the service as one that can help you find a relationship, not just a hookup.

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Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious

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2017 has been a tough year…
I seem to have unintentionally created a series of illustrations about Donald Trump! It’s impossible to avoid the damage he has caused during his presidency, and his actions have become material for my illustrations.

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Anomoly: Dear Satan

Amazing Christmas creatives don’t always come in the form of TV ads. Advertising agencies often create ‘holiday cards’ or animations to send to clients and post on social media. This year, ad agency Anomaly have created a hilarious 2D animation, with a holiday twist called Dear Satan:

The short film is narrated by the legendary Patrick Stewart, and was written, directed, animated and produced by Anomaly. The narrative focuses on what happens when you make a typo in an amusing tale about Satan’s frozen heart feeling compassion for the first time. I won’t ruin the rest of the film!

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Spotlight: Stephan Dybus

Stephan Dybus is a German artist based in Berlin whose watercolour paintings depict relationships, life, his career and experiences (mainly negative ones). Stephan’s work, at first glance, is not representative of the aesthetic trends and styles I tend to be interested in, but his context and narrative is so powerful and hilarious that it just works so well.

I want to transfer the essence of my inadequacy as an urban hipster/melancholic artistic into humorous illustrations. I want to quote from the world that I come from. I enjoy drawing my little funny miniature characters – they can do anything, they look stupid, they don’t care about it, unlike me, they are free.

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‘Aquarelle’ is the technique Stephan has adopted in his art, in which he paints with thin, transparent watercolours, after sketching out his ideas with pencil. The style Stephan has created looks almost juvenile, but it certainly visually translates his thoughts – it’s almost like the drawing equivalent to quickly jotting down thoughts in a diary or journal.

The stories are so deadpan, exploring failure and relatable experiences life throws at us, and translating this through sketchy, painted characters. Stephan states that he gains inspiration for pieces at any time, particularly during conversations, which adds to the instantaneous, unusual context of his characters’ stories.

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Stephan has also explored recreating his art in 3D and through ‘low poly art’/paper craft:

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Wang & Söderström |Sneakersnstuff x adidas Originals

Creative studio Wang & Söderström are Copenhagen based digital designers who explore the combination of physical elements, technology and material. Commissioned by Sneakerstuff x adidas, the duo created a campaign for the release of the ‘EQT Materials Pack’ focusing on the diversity of materials in the shoes by zooming in to the shoe on a “macro level”:

The campaign included the animation (above) and store implementations in Sneakersnstuff’s Paris and London stores. For the digital aspects, they used 3D software such as 3ds Max, Vray and Modo, and extracted aspects of the physical shoe materials to inspire the concept:

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The brief was quite open and we are happy that our aesthetic wasn’t compromised — we shared the same vision as the client from the beginning. The inspiration to the brief came from one our personal projects called Treasures a series that shows contrasted material collections in a still life staging. We wanted to present a visual language that mixes our own, the shoe’s and Sneakersnstuff’s universe.

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This aesthetic and colour palette is very similar to campaigns I’ve posted about before, such as the Nike and ManVsMachine campaign. I love this style – it’s a really popular design trend as more designers are exploring 3D design.

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Trans* Ban: Not a Burden

There seems to be running theme with the illustrations I am creating. It’s impossible to ignore the garbage that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth, and it’s certainly impossible to ignore messages of hate, including transphobia.
In August, Trump’s directive issued a military policy that would prohibit transgender people from joining all branches of the armed forces and ban military healthcare plans from funding sex-reassignment surgeries. Trump has decided to discredit American heroes based on their gender identity by directing the military not to move forward with an Obama-era plan (from 2016). The plan allowed transgender individuals to be recruited into the armed forces, along with a ban of the Department of Defense from using its resources to provide medical treatment mentioned above.

Once more, many trans* heroes will be left in limbo in so many different ways – mentally, socially, financially and emotionally. Trump’s decision pours salt an already transphobic wound that a large part of the world is desperately trying to heal.
This illustration questions what exactly is the difference between a cis-soldier and a trans-soldier? Nothing.

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Spotlight: Marco Palena

Marco Palena has instantly become one of my top 5 favourite illustrators with his stunningly detailed and unique illustrations. The winners of this year’s Association of Illustrators’ World Illustration Awards have been announced, and Marco has won ‘The Overall New Talent Award’ for his work for the ‘Bookshops in Blossom’ book (below), which details Italian literature and culture:

His work has featured on the cover of plenty of magazine covers including ‘My Family and Other Animals’ for Illustrated Magazine (2015):

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Marco’s uniquely crafted illustrations are so incredible that it took me a while to realise that they aren’t digital illustrations, but in fact hand drawn!

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He often illustrates in monochrome, but his colour illustrations are just as incredible, and have been featured in children’s books:

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It’s hard to actually find information about Marco and interviews with him despite his successes, but I think his work speaks for itself. Stunning!

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