The Substance of Style

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My favorite movie is The Royal Tenenbaums. In fact I love director Wes Anderson in general; his overarching and meticulous vision and distinct sensibility makes for unique — and to me, near-perfect — films. I was delighted, therefore, to find a five-part, in-depth, thoughtful and well-researched video essay on his influences. I want more things like this in my life, please.

Part 1: Charles Schultz (Peanuts), Orson Welles (The Magnificent Ambersons), François Truffaut (The 400 Blows)

Part 2: Martin Scorsese (GoodFellas), Richard Lester (The Beatles’ Help!), and Mike Nichols (The Graduate)

Part 3: Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude)

Part 4: J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye)

Part 5: opening of The Royal Tenenbaums — my favorite sequence of my favorite movie — annotated Pop-Up Video style with influences and Anderson’s own innovations.

Both where this is housed, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the author’s (Matt Zoller Seitz) blog The House Next Door are intriguing too, especially for people like me who like thinking ad nauseum about films.

via metafilter

TypograFriday: fantastic clothing and accessory finds for type lovers

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Row 1:
This Kern ring set from plastique* was the inspiration for this week’s Font-y Friday. These rings are so geeky, but I think they are hysterical. They remind me of the Veer sweatshirt which I have always wanted, but still don’t have.

Owen bought me this Epershand Necklace from Isette during a fit of etsy shopping a few weeks ago. Each time I wear it, I get a ton of compliments on it. (In case you are wondering, ephersand is the Scots and Scotish English word for ampersand).

Row 2:
Lorem Ipsum “Ketchup and Mustard” shirt from The Select Series at Threadless.com. Almost any shirt with this classic greeked text phrase would be a hit with us, but this one is executed perfectly in streams of ketchup and mustard.

In a similar script, with a tagline that gets funnier with each line, there’s also the “My Baseline is lower than yours….much lower…” shirt from Workerman.

Row 3:
My appreciation of Helvetica has grown hugely since watching Helvetica. Show your love for this classic typeface by wearing this Helvetica Neue Descending tank from typography shop.

Futura Bold necklace from This is Star Jewelry. Owen says, “It’s one cmd-i away from being the perfect accessory to wear to a Barbara Kruger exhibit.”

Row 4:
The Swash Buckle and Kern Sweatshirt from veer.com; Veer has a bunch of great products for the discerning type nerd — these are just two of our favorites.

Row 5:
I bought Owen this Personalized Typography T-shirt from Enzyme Press for Christmas last year. It calls out the typographic terminology of your chosen word (baseline, counter, x-height etc) and you can choose from a variety of typefaces, shirt and ink colors.

Great screenprinted Typography shirt from stiksel. Owen bought a handkerchief from her the other day; it’s pretty fantastic too.

living stones and baby toes

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For the past few days, I haven’t had a moment to breathe, let alone post something. But when my amazing new succulents arrived yesterday from Monkeys Always Look, I was so happy, I had to share.

The one that looks like a heart split down the middle belongs to the Argyroderma (meaning “silver skin”) genus, and is commonly referred to as a “living stone.” The other plant (that looks to me like a bunch of little sea snakes swimming together) is known as “baby toes” (genus Fenestraria meaning “window”).

I am absolutely in love with them.

agnes thor

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The colors and sun streaks/bursts in Agnes Thor’s photos make me happy.

we love typography

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I probably should wait until Font-y Friday to post about this, but John Boardley and Kari Pätilä just launched we love typography, the companion site to John’s blog i love typography. As John says, “It’s like an FFFFound for type-related content, a type-themed delicio.us for the eyes.” So far, it looks pretty awesome.

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Speak up when you say goodbye

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Armin Vit & Bryony Gomez-Palacio are closing their incredible blog/discussion forum Speak Up. Between Armin’s and Bryony’s farewells, and the long discussion threads that accompany them, I am not sure what else there is to say. It was the best place for facilitating and provoking graphic design discourse since Emigre magazine, and was in play years before Design Observer. [is it odd that all three of these examples are founded in whole or in part by 2 married designers? I think so!] In terms of a fully open discussion, it surpassed both. It was a landmark, and its time is passing. It will be missed.

The good news:
1) They’re keeping open Brand New, which has an always-lively discussion — it’s where I’ve directed people to see the range of opinion on the Tropicana rebrand takeback debate — and to read Paula Scher’s critical assertion that no matter what you think of Arnell’s design, the decision to take back a redesign sets a bad precedent. It also had the year’s best April Fools.

2)  They’ll keep the full archives open, with closed comments, as a set of documents for the future. In compiling the collected letters of DesignMaven 2002-2009, this will be crucial. Oh I joke now but I know that I will find my way back to these in the coming years.

3) My Marian Bantjes’ “bitchin” Speak Up shirt gets to go into a frame now. This was the first I’d heard of her, in Speak Up, and now look she’s my favorite. It looks like the picture at the top, but the ink is metallic silver.

4) Unlike some projects which fade away (looking at you, typographi-4 posts in the last year-.ca/.com/ca.org) or reach their end unaware that it’s the end (e.g. the final issues of Craft and Domino and pretty much most magazines) it is ending on its own terms: that is to say, characteristically with a set of mini-essays and discussions.

In this way, it makes me think of Dan Rolleri & Martin Venezky’s Speak Magazine (1996 – 2001), with which it almost shares a name. This magazine was without peer in its day — discursive content much like The Believer + with incredibly cutting edge design. I gave my smarter older brother a reader of selected photocopied articles from it back one unemployed Christmas. Like Emigre would in 2005, Speak knew its final issue would be the last. Issue 21 was a round-table retrospective of the staff, one imagines over a few beers, on the long road of the magazine. Though this accounts for nearly the entire issue, I still look back on it as the most important of all and not just for its closure. It’s available to read online: I’d recommend it to anyone who is working on, or considering starting, a magazine.

The last issue’s cover, which I submit as fitting for Speak Up as well, featured a book of matches in an ashtray — and down by the barcode:

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Armin + Bryony: display until forever. And thanks.

Some fall in love; I shatter

In case you haven’t already seen this on 100 other blogs (e.g. itsnicethat) it’s a collaboration between designer Craig Ward and photographer Jason Tozer. They both have some pretty amazing stuff in their portfolios, though this one really gets me. Here’s a writeup on the making of it.

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When I saw You Blow Me Away a few weeks back, I was reminded of another photographer whose frozen explosions are pretty phenomenal: Martin Klimas. I was first introduced to him via the always-fantastic Morning News galleries (which feature several works + an interview with a different visual artist, regularly updated: hundreds of ’em since 2001!)

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Inspired by looking at these artists’ work, I looked on flickr for high speed photography, to try to collect my thoughts, when I found this lovely lovely shot by Aden Tranter that to this designer’s eye is a few words of type away from being an amazing album cover, say for this single for the Handsome Family.

I had nothing to say on Christmas day when you threw all your clothes in the snow. When you burnt your hair, knocked over chairs, I just tried to stay out of your way.
But when you fell asleep, with blood on your teeth, I got in my car and drove away. Listen to me, Butterfly, there’s only so much wine you can drink in one life, and it will never be enough to save you from the bottom of your glass.

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What is it about these shots that impresses me so? Certainly content has something to do with it: Ward and Tozer’s shattering of that phrase of type, and Klimas’ shattering of kung fu figurines each add layers of delicious meaning… And though Tranter’s shot is of a simple bottle, his choice of reddened water and a dull green backdrop are critical, and if you were to crop the Jim Beam logo out leaving only liquid and glass, some the resonance with drunken abandon is lost.

But content aside, I think the root of the appeal can be found in the design-professor-favorite phrase “happy accidents.” Photography and design both involve impeccable, balanced, beautiful composition/layout — and it is usually achieved through careful planning, staging, grid and so forth. And yet sometimes you have a happy accident — whether it’s mistakenly dropping in the wrong cropping of an image or splashing ink or a light leak — which makes the composition work, usually by virtue of its unpredictable disorderliness.

What these high-speed photographers have done is carefully arranged happy accidents. They can’t be assured how the pane of glass, figurine or bottle will break… but they can capture, and then exercise their judicious cropping and editing on, the compositions that the physics of destruction create. The process must be tiresome, messy to clean up and aggravating at times, but when you can catch something as beautiful as these, it is totally worth it.

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(Klimas, again)

Indie Parade

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Owen and I are really excited that our Thank You cards are being featured on Indie Parade. Indie Parade is a blog that features work by independent crafters and designers that is submitted by its readers. All of the images/products are reviewed by Indie Parade, and if selected, get featured on the site. You can submit your own work (which could be a good marketing tool) but, someone else submitted our cards. There are a bunch ways you can search for products and because the items are submitted by different people, there is a good range of aesthetic tastes.

Onthetable

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On the topic of fonts, the creative agency, “Onthetable” has created a beautiful book of fonts (along with a bunch of other great things).

TypograFriday: Contemporary Type Abundance

There’s been a trend in the last few years dubbed maximalism. We’re particular fans of how it manifests calligraphically and typographically. Here’s some of the finest, and six words about each:

Ray Fenwick
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Words and pictures both very good.

Marian Bantjes
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We have one; it’s laser-cut awesomeness.

Jessica Hische
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This will be a tshirt soon.

Si Scott
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Pen in hand, makes his mark.

Niels “Shoe” Meulman
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calligraffiti inventor. Yep, how it sounds.

Seb Lester
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Silver on black plike. Pretty rad.

Yulia Brodskaya
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OMG that’s quilling? That’s insane yo.

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