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10 Science-Backed Ways to Spark Creativity

Posted: September 18th, 2014 | Author: Tanner Christensen | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off
Child designed by Joey Edwards from the Noun Project

Child designed by Joey Edwards from the Noun Project

Research over the last decade has shown that there are proven methods for sparking creative insights. If you want to be more creative, author and researcher Jonah Lehrer explains at The Wall Street Journal, you’ll simply need to coax your brain into it. Lehrer gives us 10 tips on how to do just that, here are some of our favorites:

Get Groggy: According to a study published last month, people at their least alert time of day—think of a night person early in the morning—performed far better on various creative puzzles, sometimes improving their success rate by 50%.

Daydream Away: Research led by Jonathan Schooler at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has found that people who daydream more score higher on various tests of creativity.

Think Like A Child: When subjects are told to imagine themselves as 7-year-olds, they score significantly higher on tests of divergent thinking, such as trying to invent alternative uses for an old car tire.

Laugh It Up: When people are exposed to a short video of stand-up comedy, they solve about 20% more insight puzzles.

While creativity has been viewed as magical concept for centuries, research like that Lehrer points to shows that it’s little more than a series of cognitive tools our brains use to solve problems. Learning how to hone those skills (as Lehrer explains) means we can spark it in ourselves and our work whenever we need it most.


Astronomy Photographer of the Year winners 2014

Posted: September 18th, 2014 | Author: Antonia Wilson | Filed under: Photography | Comments Off

From landscape shots across skies alight with swathes of brightly coloured gas and dust, to telescopic images of distant, deep space star clusters, this year's winners for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Awards present a spectacular selection of cosmic delights.

Now in its sixth year, the competition continues to showcase dazzling images from amateur and professional astrophotographers from around the world that reflect our enduring fascination with the night sky and outer space. The awards also play an important part in maintaining public interest around space exploration and scientific observation.

The winning image from the Earth and Space category, and overall winner (picked from the winners of each category), was Aurora over a Glacier Lagoon by James Woodend, taken in Iceland's Vatnajökull National Park. High energy electrons cause oxygen to emit green light and the arcs of the aurora are shaped by the shifting forces of the Earth's magnetic field. (pictured above)

The runner up in Earth and Space was Matt James' Wind Farm Star Trails, taken in Bungendore, Australia, with the rotation of the Earth turning stars into a streaks of light (pictured above). Moon Balloon by Patrick Cullis was among the highly commended entries for this category; an image of the Earth from 87,000 feet, with the moon in the background, taken with the aid of a high altitude balloon. (pictured below)

Bill Snyder's Horsehead Nebula (IC 434) won the Deep Space category, taken using a PlaneWave 17-inch telescope and a Apogee U16 camera, with a total exposure time through various filters of 13 hours. This cloud of dust and gas is often lost is complete darkness, but is one of the most photographs objects in the night sky. (pictured above)

The runner up in the Deep Space category was David Fitz-Henry's telescopic image The Helix Nebula (NGC7293). It shows a dying star at the centre of a nebula (a cloud of gas and dust in space), and is not too dissimilar to how are own sun will appear at the end of it's evolution. As described during the ceremony, "it is an image of our future". (pictured above)

Highly commended images in this category came from Marco Lorenzi with At the Feet of Orion (NGC 1999), Rogelio Bernal Andreo's California vs Pleiades and Veil Nebula Detail (IC 340) by J P Metsävainio. (All pictured above)

In the Our Solar System category, the winning image came from Alexandra Hart with Ripples in a Pond, taken using a TEC140 refractor telescope and a PGR Grasshopper 3 camera, depicting the Sun's boiling surface. (pictured above)

Runner up in this category was a telescopic photo of the Moon's surface called Best of the Craters by George Tarsoudis. To give a sense of scale, the large central crater has a diameter of 86km (pictured above). The highly commended entries including Tunç Tezel's Diamond and Rubies, depicting a total eclipse, with the Moon blocking the Sun's light, capturing an effect known as the ‘diamond ring'. (pictured below)

The Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year award went to 15 year old twins Shishir & Shashank Dholakia for their telescopic photo The Horsehead Nebula (IC434) (pictured above), with another one of their images being highly commended, depicting the The Heart Nebula (IC1805) which sits 7500 light years away from Earth. (pictured below)

Also among the highly commended images was Moon Behind the Trees by 12 year old Emily Jeremy (pictured above).

Special prizes included People and Space, won by Eugen Kamenew with Hybrid Solar Eclipse 2, taken at sunrise in northern Kenya (pictured above); with Julie Fletcher's Lost Souls as runner up, shot with a 20 second exposure at Lake Eyre in remote South Australia, showing the dust of our solar system lit up by the Sun. (pictured below)

Robotic Scope Image of the Year went to Mark Hanson with NGC 3718, a deep space image of a galaxy 52 million light years from Earth, taken using one of the increasing number of computer-controlled telescopes at prime observing sites around the world which can be accessed over the internet by members of the public. (pictured above)

The Sir Patrick Moore prize for Best Newcomer went to Chris Murphy with Coastal Stairways, taken in the Wairarapa district of New Zealand. (pictured above)

To see the full selection of winners, runners up and highly commended images visit www.rmg.co.uk/royal-observatory A free exhibition of the works will be on at the Royal Observatory Greenwich until 22 February 2015, (be sure to catch one of the spectacular shows in their Planetarium when you are there), and a book has also been produced with Collins including all shortlisted and winning works.

London Design Festival at the V&A

Posted: September 18th, 2014 | Author: Rachael Steven | Filed under: Art, Digital, Graphic Design | Comments Off

A look at some of the highlights from the V&A's London Design Festival programme, including graphic mosaics, nightmarish 3D sculptures and a mesmerising experiment with light...

London Design Festival runs until Sunday, with installations, talks and events taking place across the capital (you can read our blog post on LCC's 160 exhibitions, covering graphics, illustration and button badges, here). This year, the headline installations at the V&A Museum are Zaha Hadid's Crest and Barber Osgerby's Double Space.

Crest is an ultra-thin sculpture made from eight millimetre-thick aluminium, installed over a pool in the museum's John Madejski courtyard. Hadid says it explores "the relationship between surface and structure, transforming the planar water surface of the pool into a curvillinear form, creating a compelling interplay with light and reflection." It will reside at the V&A throughout London Design Festival before moving to ME hotel in Dubai, which commissioned the project.

ME by Meliá 'Crest' by Zaha Hadid Architects. Image: Ed Reeve

Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby's Double Space installation, housed in the V&A's Raphael Gallery, is made up of two 15-metre long mirrors weighing over five tonnes each, which are rotated throughout the day, creating a constantly shifting view of the paintings on show:

Double Space for BMW - Precision & Poetry in Motion. Image: Ed Reeve

Both are impressive, but my favourite piece at the V&A this year is Candela: a mesmerising installation designed by Felix de Pass, Graphic Thought Facility’s Michael Montgomery and ceramicist Ian McIntyre.

Placed in a darkened room among medieval tapestries, the installation is made up of a large rotary machine which sits just above the gallery floor. As the face of the machine rotates, it passes hundreds of LED lights housed in a ceramic casing, emitting an eerie green glow.

The project was commissioned by Italian watch brand Officine Panerai, and is inspired by the concept of time. It was made using superluminova, a phospherescent material used in the brand's glow in the dark watch faces, which is charged by LEDs as the machine spins, producing a series of luminous patterns which gradually fade to a softer, duller glow. It's beautifully constructed and the changing patterns are hypnotic.

Another project that caught my eye was Berlin group The T/Shirt Issue's Dream Land, named after Edgar Poe's 1844 poem. The group, which have been based at the museum as part of a residency programme for the past six months, created a series of abstract sculptures based on 3D scans of objects in the museum's collection. Scans were digitally manipulated to create 'hybrid creatures'  reproduced as physical sculptures. The group says the installation, like a dream, "removes the certainty of the objects" leaving them open to alteration and reinterpretation.

Among the furniture and product designs on display is a series of new additions to the V&A's Design Fund (which acquires contemporary design objects), including a 3D printed 'Sketch' chair by Stockholm design company Front. The chair, below, was created using motion capture data and rapid prototyping: the design is based on an initial sketch made using pen strokes in the air, transformed into a 3D file using motion capture, and 3D printed.

In the British Galleries' cinema room is Future Graphics, a project curated by Factory Fifteen, Design on Film and Penny Hilton, head of the MA graphic moving image course at Central Saint Martins. Twenty eight CG and motion graphics films will be played on a loop throughout the duration of the festival, including work made by students at CSM. Only one film was playing on my visit, but featured some great CG footage of a Rolls Royce speeding through a rural landscape, with leaves blowing in the wind and water droplets falling to the ground.

By the V&A's Tunnel entrance is a lovely installation, Carousel Wall, designed by print and design studio David David in partnership with Johnson Tiles. The artwork is based on a 2011 piece by David David founder David Saunders, inspired by Islamic geometrics, and features bold graphic shapes in bright colours.

Also on throughout London Design Festival (and until early February) is Disobedient Objects, an exhibition showcasing objects made for protest and political activism which we wrote about in our August issue. The show, which opened this summer, is free to enter and a must-see if you're visiting the museum - objects on display range from protest banners to home made drones, political badges and a Tiki Love Truck (a mosaic car dedicated to a death row inmate in Texas, made in protest against his death). It features some brilliant graphics by Barnbrook, too, including vinyl 'barricades' on the door to the entrance and a neon green stitched sign:

The V&A is also hosting a Digital Design Weekend as part of LDF - among the talks and workshops taking place are a talk from Drone Shadows creator James Bridle on his A Quiet Disposition project, which gathers reports on unmanned aerial vehicles, plus a workshop and talk from Nelly Ben Hayoun on Disaster Playground, an online project speculating on future outer space catastrophes and safety procedures. Visitors can also have their bodies 3D scanned in workshop by the T/Shirt Group and create their own disobedient objects - for details of all events, see londondesignfestival.com.

Leica M Edition 60

Posted: September 18th, 2014 | Author: Antonio Carusone | Filed under: camera, Industrial Design, Leica, limited, Photography, rangefinder | Comments Off

Anyone have $20,000 to drop on this Leica?

To celebrate of the 60th anniversary of M camera, Leica produced the limited edition Leica M Edition 60. The kit includes a Leica M-P digital camera and the Summilux-M 35 mm f/1.4 ASPH. lens, both created by Audi Design.

This is more of a collectors item than anything, but it’s amazing to see the amount of detail that went into it, even down to the packaging and presentation.

NYCTA Graphics Standards Manual reissue

Posted: September 18th, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Books, Digital, Graphic Design, Type / Typography | Comments Off

In 2012, a rare copy of the 1970 New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual was discovered in the basement of Pentagram's New York office – and, page by page, the whole thing was documented online at thestandardsmanual.com. Now, it is to be republished as a book – which you can pledge to buy via a Kickstarter page set up to raise funding for its production...

In 1967, the New York City Transit Authority originally commissioned Unimark International's Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda to design a signage and wayfinding system that would dramatically improve the experience of travelling on the city's Subway. Their Manual changed the way the Subway looked – and worked – and their Graphics Standards document went on to become a modern design classic.

Within 72 hours of making their Manual website live, Niko Skourtis, Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth's site had received a quarter of a million unique views. But, say Reed and Smyth who are both Pentagram designers, despite incorporating some great full screen photography (plus a magnifying tool to read the texts), "the Manual really belongs in print".

So the pair decided to reissue the classic document as a full size book – and the project has proven so popular on Kickstarter that they have already broken through their $108,000 goal and currently have a pledge total of $618,000, with 22 days to go (full details are here).

While the early bird options on securing a copy of the book went quickly, at time of writing, US customers can still obtain a copy of the book (delivery date is March 2015) by pledging $118 or more; Canadian customers $133 or more; and interested parties in the EU – $158 or more.

All pledges at those amounts include shipping but orders must be placed within the funding period, which expires on October 10 – after this campaign, this reissue (officially licensed by the MTA) will not be available again.

By way of an introduction to the Manual, there's a great short film in which Pentagram's Michael Bierut explains the significance of the Vignelli and Noorda-design system for the New York Subway (below). The book iself will feature a written introduction by Bierut and an essay on the Manual's development by Christopher Bonanos.

Video: Harrison Boyce, harrisonboyce.com. Music: Edo Van Breemen, edovanbreemen.com


Here's what the original Manual looks like:


And here's an example of one of the scans of the original pages, on 'letter spacing', which the project's founders will be using to make each page of the new Manual:



A detail shows the quality of the scan:

"The original Standards Manual is held in a 5 ring binder," say the designers. "Each page inside the binder measures 13x13". The reissue will be Smyth (section) sewn rather than ring bound. Each page will measure 13.5"(343 mm) square, so we can include a 0.25"(6.4mm) border around each scan to ensure we can print the full 13" scan."

This mock-up gives an idea of how the page shown above will look in the finished book:


Some additional mock-ups of the book:


And scan details:


The reissue cover, introduction, and essay headings will be set in a custom version of Standard Medium by type designer Nick Sherman.

"Nick painstakingly recreated the font from the photographs we posted on thestandardsmanual.com and has allowed us to use it in the reissue," say the project's founders. "We are not altering the scans of the original Standards Manual in any way. We are only typesetting the cover, introduction, and essay in Nick's version of the font."


NYCTA Standard Medium by Nick Sherman

The typeface is based specifically on the glyph designs and spacing system presented in the Standards Manual


Full details of the Kickstarter project are at kickstarter.com.

Campaign management: Crowdsourceress Alex Daly and Vann Alexandra

Specifications of the reissue are as follows:

Printed in Italy.

364 pages with 176 four-color plates.

Plates printed from high-resolution scans of the original Standards Manual.

12 page introduction and essay (1 color).

13.5" W × 13.5" H (343 x 343 mm).

Hardcover with Cialux cloth wrap and foil stamped title on the cover and spine.

Smyth (section) sewn binding.

3 gate folds.

Printed on 100 and 140 gsm Munken Pure ivory offset paper.

White head and tail bands.

The book is huge.

It measures 13.5" (343mm) square and weighs over 7lbs (3.2kg).

More at kickstarter.com

Jacqueline Bissett adds a stylish touch to HTC

Posted: September 18th, 2014 | Author: Creative Review | Filed under: Illustration | Comments Off

Mobile phone brand HTC has commissioned fashion illustrator Jacqueline Bissett to create a series of 'looks' for its HTC One M8 model, positioning the phone as a fashion accessory for both women and men



Bissett's illustrations reference key styles for Autumn/Winter 2014 – which we're sure all CR readers are familiar with... She then worked in the HTC phones which come in a choice of five different colours producing an elegant set of images that are a welcome attempt to do something more imaginative in brand comms for this sector




Bissett used her signature style of black ink applied with Chinese brushes combined with washes of colour on heavy watercolour paper



The final images will be bound into a 'lookbook' which will be distributed to key HTC partners and press



See more of Jaqueline Bissett's work here

Ad of the Week: Loose Women stunt for Refuge

Posted: September 18th, 2014 | Author: Eliza Williams | Filed under: Advertising | Comments Off

Refuge, the UK domestic violence charity, yesterday ran a clever stunt campaign during an episode of ITV daytime chat show Loose Women. The campaign is our Ad of the Week.

Created by BBH London, the stunt appeared to be a normal segment of the show. It showed Jamelia, a celebrity panelist on Loose Women, talking directly to camera, in a style typical to the show, about her experiences in the past in an abusive relationship. As she relayed her story, the camera slowly panned backwards, so that the singer became increasingly isolated. By the time the section ended, it showed Jamelia entirely alone in the empty studio before the hashtag #youarenotalone appeared on screen, alongside the Refuge web address. The show then cut to an ad break. The campaign is shown below:

The stunt is a clever way of spreading Refuge's message to a relevant audience. By playing with the show's normal format, it is likely to have attracted the attention of viewers in a way a typical commercial may not, plus Jamelia's literal isolation on screen is a simple yet powerful visual message. Its effectiveness was obvious with a strong and immediate reaction on social media, and when the show returned after the ad break, its message was further emphasised by a discussion about domestic violence with the full Loose Women cast and Sandra Horley, CEO of Refuge.

This is not the first time Refuge and BBH has experimented with unusual approaches in its ads. In 2012, the charity created a powerful film featuring YouTube star and make up artist Lauren Luke, who offered tips on how to cover up bruising.

Agency: BBH
Creatives: Jack Smedley, George Hackforth-Jones
Creative director: Caroline Pay
Social engagement director: Alex Walker-Sage
Photographer: Tom van Schelven, Making Pictures
Digital design lead: Simon Parmegianni
Motion graphics: Vinny Olimpio
Producer: Jeremy Gleeson

Sam Bush tells us what it’s like to photograph riots

Posted: September 18th, 2014 | Author: James Cartwright | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off


Stumbling across the portfolio of photographer Sam Bush, you’ll immediately be struck by the diversity of his work. His singles all demonstrate a refined aesthetic and a coherent style of lifestyle photography that’s incredibly on point. Then there’s the energetic chaos of his gig photos, featuring sweaty, heavily-tattoed guys and girls kicking the crap out of each other in the mosh pit. And then you stumble across a large series on riots – it’s a mixed bag, but a mixed bag of delicious treats.

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Bronia Stewart on her latest documentary series about Mexican gangs

Posted: September 18th, 2014 | Author: Amy Lewin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off


Bronia Stewart first caught everyone’s attention back in 2013 with her project Babe Station. With this gritty series taken behind the scenes at an adult television channel the LCC graduate dove into salacious subject matter showing maturity, confidence and creativity beyond her tender years. Where could she and her camera possibly venture next?

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Lucas Foglia’s extraordinary shots of America in the new Printed Pages

Posted: September 18th, 2014 | Author: James Cartwright | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off


Almost two years ago to the day we discovered the work of a Californian photographer who had immersed himself in remote American communities embracing the “back to the land movement” and created an extraordinary body of work in the process. Lucas Foglia’s A Natural Order uncovered a side of US culture we’d never seen before, presenting extraordinary lives in the manner of a Flemish master; with rich chiaroscuro, atmospheric composition and a simple honesty that comes from wanting to represent fact as clearly as possible.

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