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The Art of Smallfilms

Posted: October 22nd, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Art, Books, Illustration, Music Video / Film | Comments Off

From the puppets created for Bagpuss and The Clangers, to the paper cut-outs that shaped the world of Noggin the Nog, the archive of Smallfilms has been meticulously detailed in a new publication from Four Corners Books. It's both a celebration of handmade creativity and a tribute to British eccentricity and imagination...

The book has been put together by Jonny Trunk who is, as comedian Stewart Lee suggests in his introduction, something of an archivist of British popular culture. Trunk's methods as a cultural excavator are, Lee says, a perfect fit for a visual history of one of the UK's most cherished creative companies.

 

Eva Herzog's highly detailed photography captures all the figures, puppets, sets and drawings used to create The Clangers, Bagpuss, Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog, plus a selection of Smallfilms' lesser known series, including The Pogles and Pogles' Wood, Tottie: A Doll's House and Pinny's House. Each object is documented, quite rightly, as a piece of art.

Smallfilms was the result of Oliver Postgate's belief that he could make better children's television programmes than those being aired in Britain in the late 1950s.

As a stage manager for ITV he made props for science programmes and sit-coms and, in 1958, after a brief experience of children's television, he wrote a six-episode story entitled Alexander the Mouse, which was then commissioned by the channel.

To make the backgrounds and character design for the programme, Postgate contacted Peter Firmin, a freelance illustrator and lecturer at the Central School of Art in London.

 

After collaborating on an early animation technique whereby characters were moved around on a zinc table via magnets held underneath, the pair worked on carboard constructions which were animated live by levers and sliders positioned behind the card.

Postgate eventually purchased a camera and taught himself to animate, while Firmin, based in Twickenham at this time, began to construct 3D models and puppets. The raw materials were essentially household objects that they had to hand – fabrics, cotton reels, computer tape and foil would be mixed with felt, paper, wire and glue.

When the Firmin family moved to a farmhouse in the village of Blean in Kent in 1959, the outbuidings and barn provided Smallfilms with a workshop studio.

Shortly afterwards the Postgates moved to nearby Whitstable and The Pingwings and the The Pogles (1965-68, spread shown above) became their first animated films to use models (the latter was filmed outdoors, something that Postgate later advised against ever doing again because of the ever-changing light).

 

As a general rule, Trunk writes, Postgate would come up with a series idea and Firmin would produce the sets, models and puppets – which Postage would then film. Firmin's wife Joan was also integral to the process: she made many elements for the programmes, including costumes and clothes and even the knitted Clangers themselves (above).

Soon enough, Smallfilms became something of a cottage industry – albeit a small-scale, highly imaginative one – that went on to produce the children's classics which would make its name in the 1960s and 70s, namely: The Clangers (1969-74), Bagpuss (1974), Ivor the Engine (1958-59 in b/w and 1975-77 in colour, two spreads shown below) and Noggin the Nog (1959-65 in b/w and 1982 in colour).

 

While Firmin (now 85 – and still working) has clearly kept the Smallfilms archive extremely well preserved, credit must go to Trunk and Richard Embray at Four Corners for pursuing the idea of bringing it all together in book form.

Herzog's photography is so good that the experience of looking at the pictures of these well-known characters from yesteryear feels more like quietly studying them in an exhibition.

 

In his introduction, Lee states that a minor danger in enthusing about this kind of work is that fans can appear reactionary; the world in which Postgate and Firmin created these films has long since ceased to exist: "The social circumstances and value systems that shaped those paper and scissors, arts and crafts cowshed visionairies of another era, Firmin and Postgate, are long gone," he writes.

But to see this world preserved in such a beautifully produced book is a real treat. And perhaps something of Postgate and Firmin's method does live on, or has been renewed, in the digital age. Their adherence to salvaging and recycling things, using their hands to turn unassuming objects into a brilliant kind of folk art, still speaks to the modern audience.

The Art of Smallfilms – The Work of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, edited by Jonny Trunk and Richard Embray, is published by Four Corners Books; £25. The book is designed by John Morgan and features photography by Eva Herzog. Art direction by Morgan and Kirsten Hecktermann




The Art of Smallfilms

Posted: October 22nd, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Art, Books, Illustration, Music Video / Film | Comments Off

From the puppets created for Bagpuss and The Clangers, to the paper cut-outs that shaped the world of Noggin the Nog, the archive of Smallfilms has been meticulously detailed in a new publication from Four Corners Books. It's both a celebration of handmade creativity and a tribute to British eccentricity and imagination...

The book has been put together by Jonny Trunk who is, as comedian Stewart Lee suggests in his introduction, something of an archivist of British popular culture. Trunk's methods as a cultural excavator are, Lee says, a perfect fit for a visual history of one of the UK's most cherished creative companies.

 

Eva Herzog's highly detailed photography captures all the figures, puppets, sets and drawings used to create The Clangers, Bagpuss, Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog, plus a selection of Smallfilms' lesser known series, including The Pogles and Pogles' Wood, Tottie: A Doll's House and Pinny's House. Each object is documented, quite rightly, as a piece of art.

Smallfilms was the result of Oliver Postgate's belief that he could make better children's television programmes than those being aired in Britain in the late 1950s.

As a stage manager for ITV he made props for science programmes and sit-coms and, in 1958, after a brief experience of children's television, he wrote a six-episode story entitled Alexander the Mouse, which was then commissioned by the channel.

To make the backgrounds and character design for the programme, Postgate contacted Peter Firmin, a freelance illustrator and lecturer at the Central School of Art in London.

 

After collaborating on an early animation technique whereby characters were moved around on a zinc table via magnets held underneath, the pair worked on carboard constructions which were animated live by levers and sliders positioned behind the card.

Postgate eventually purchased a camera and taught himself to animate, while Firmin, based in Twickenham at this time, began to construct 3D models and puppets. The raw materials were essentially household objects that they had to hand – fabrics, cotton reels, computer tape and foil would be mixed with felt, paper, wire and glue.

When the Firmin family moved to a farmhouse in the village of Blean in Kent in 1959, the outbuidings and barn provided Smallfilms with a workshop studio.

Shortly afterwards the Postgates moved to nearby Whitstable and The Pingwings and the The Pogles (1965-68, spread shown above) became their first animated films to use models (the latter was filmed outdoors, something that Postgate later advised against ever doing again because of the ever-changing light).

 

As a general rule, Trunk writes, Postgate would come up with a series idea and Firmin would produce the sets, models and puppets – which Postage would then film. Firmin's wife Joan was also integral to the process: she made many elements for the programmes, including costumes and clothes and even the knitted Clangers themselves (above).

Soon enough, Smallfilms became something of a cottage industry – albeit a small-scale, highly imaginative one – that went on to produce the children's classics which would make its name in the 1960s and 70s, namely: The Clangers (1969-74), Bagpuss (1974), Ivor the Engine (1958-59 in b/w and 1975-77 in colour, two spreads shown below) and Noggin the Nog (1959-65 in b/w and 1982 in colour).

 

While Firmin (now 85) has clearly kept the Smallfilms archive extremely well preserved, credit must go to Trunk and Four Corners for pursuing the idea of bringing it all together in book form.

Herzog's photography is so good that the experience of looking at the pictures of these well-known characters from yesteryear feels more like quietly studying them in an exhibition.

 

In his introduction, Lee states that the danger in enthusing about this kind of work is that fans of it can appear reactionary; the world in which Postgate and Firmin created these films has changed forever:

"The social circumstances and value systems that shaped those paper and scissors, arts and crafts cowshed visionairies of another era, Firmin and Postgate, are long gone," he writes.

But to see this world preserved in such a beautifully produced book is a real treat. And perhaps something of Postgate and Firmin's method lives on, or has been renewed, in the digital age. Their adherence to salvaging and recycling things, using their hands to turn unassuming objects into a brilliant kind of folk art, still speaks to the modern audience.

The Art of Smallfilms – The Work of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, edited by Jonny Trunk and Richard Embray, is published by Four Corners Books; £25. The book is designed by John Morgan and features photography by Eva Herzog. Art direction by Morgan and Kirsten Hecktermann




Hear from six of the best from The Modern Magazine

Posted: October 22nd, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Graphic Design, Magazine / Newspaper, Music Video / Film, Type / Typography | Comments Off

Following on from its Modern Magazine conference last month, magCulture is releasing a video interview with one of six of the main speakers every Wednesday. The second film has just gone live and features Elana Schlenker, the designer behind the ‘pamphlet of typographic smut' – Gratuitous Type...

During September's conference magCulture filmed a series of interviews with six of event's speakers and is continuing to post the results over the next few weeks. Last week, Wired Italia's David Moretti discussed what went into launching the magazine – you can see his film below.

Elana Schlenker is the Brooklyn-based graphic designer behind Gratuitous Type and she talks about the founding of the magazine and her plans for the next issue. Schlenker's exhibition, based on the recent fourth issue of Gratuitous Type, is on now at KK Outlet in London.

Over the next four Wednesdays, interviews with the following creative and editorial talent will appear on magCulture: Veronica Ditting, The Gentlewoman; Adam Moss, New York; Kai Brach, Offscreen; Jeremy Langmead, Christies.

Here's the first interview in the series, Wired Italia's creative director David Moretti, interviewed after speaking at the conference in London on 19 September.

The Modern Magazine conference is reviewed in the new issue of CR.


Will you be getting wood at D&AD next year?

Posted: October 17th, 2014 | Author: Creative Review | Filed under: Advertising, Digital, Graphic Design, Magazine / Newspaper, Music Video / Film, Type / Typography | Comments Off

D&AD has introduced two new pencils to its awards line-up for 2015: wood and graphite. They will replace the old In Book and Nomination designations

D&AD's awards system has always been somewhat confusing for the uninitiated. Whereas other systems stick to gold, silver and bronze, D&AD's silvers were actually yellow and its golds, black.

In addition, work selected for inclusion in the annual (so-called In Book) was itself deemed to be award-winning, as was work which received the further accolade of being nominated for a pencil - whether yellow or black.

In an attempt to make things clearer, for 2015 D&AD is introducing a wood pencill and a graphite one, so if you get in the annual you'll also receive a trophy.

So, just to be clear, In Book is wood, Nominated is graphite, silver is yellow, gold is black and, er, white is white. And the President's Awards is gold. Clear? Well, there isn't a clear... yet.


Can I get an RT? CR’s most retweeted stories

Posted: October 16th, 2014 | Author: Creative Review | Filed under: Advertising, Art, Books, Digital, Graphic Design, Illustration, Magazine / Newspaper, Music Video / Film, Photography, Type / Typography | Comments Off

CR reached 1m followers on Twitter today, so we thought we'd take the opportunity to look at some of our most retweeted stories and, if you're a CR follower, tell you a bit more about the million-strong gang you're part of. To celebrate, we also have a great CR subscription offer for you...

Thanks to our followers we've just reached a milestone on Twitter – to celebrate that fact we're offering 30% off all subscriptions packages until midnight (GMT) on Friday October 17 – go here for details.

Our very first tweet, sent out on February 23 2009, read "Creative Review's first tweet". We like to think that it was this kind of in-depth yet pithy analysis that helped us on our way to reaching a million followers this morning.

Looking back over our 14,000 or so tweets (exporting data from Twitter Analytics) many of them certainly did OK, plenty did very well, but a select few went RT-crazy.

In fact, two of our most popular tweets ever were sent out within the last couple of months: one linked to a story on the design of Aphex Twin's highly-anticipated new record; the other linked to images of, yes, some radical Norwegian banknote design. A look back at the stats reveals that our followers are interested in a huge range of subjects.

So, where are you from?

Well, according to TweepsMap, 29.1% of our Twitter followers are in the US, 26.3% in the UK, 3.5% from Canada, and 3.2% in India.

Indonesia represents 3% of our Twitter audience. It's a very international crowd with a further 8.7% of followers based in 191 different nations. Listed by city, the top five places are London (6%), New York (3%), LA (2%), Jakarta (2%) and Washington DC (1%).

And what do you like?

The results show that it's as wide a set of subjects as our audience is international – and also reflects the breadth of creativity CR aims to cover.

Using MyTopTweet we can bring up the most retweeted CR tweets of our last 3,200 but, again, exporting from Analytics and reordering the data gives us a better idea of what was popular over the last two years.

Our most retweeted RTs or MTs – i.e. retweets of images tweeted by other people, or links to external sites – include a shot of a Dutch bricklaying machine in action, a Richard Jolley cartoon for Private Eye and the news that twelve of Tom Gauld's Guardian strips are now – or at least were at the time – available as prints.

But looking at the most retweeted tweets that link to our own blog stories, there was a really interseting mix. So, here's the top ten, covering the last two years.

1. We've noticed how images have become key to Twitter over the last few years and this one, which linked to details on our just-published World Cup issue, seemed to sum up the state of the beautiful game:

 

2. One of Twitter's strong points is the ability to get a message out and have it shared by a community with a common bond, even if the news is rather sad:

 

3. Sometimes the subject matter can be a little suprising (here, banknote design) – but when it looks this good, it demonstrates how great work can get people talking about all manner of things:

 

4. No surprises here. Aphex Twin + new album + packaging by the Designers Republic x internet = RTs. A very popular tweet and blog post.

 

5. This one for a homeless charity in London also did well – a clever idea which produced some great artwork:

 

6. And this is powerful stuff, too. Also, the campaign certainly seems to have had an effect, as Lego recently ended its links with Shell:

 

7. This is great as it's our most retweeted tweet which links back to the Feed section of our site. Great creative work from Istanbul:

 

8. Transport for London are a perennial CR Twitter favourite when it comes to communications projects produced for them. Add cycling into the mix and you have yourself a tweet with legs:

 

9. And back to the World Cup. How to design a football kit – keeping to the FIFA rules:

 

10. Our tenth most retweeted tweet was news of Peter Chadwick's launch of his fantastic archive of images of Brutalism:


The above is certainly an eclectic mix – but the link between them all is great creativity.

To say thank you for following us, keep an eye on the blog today for new offers on magazine subscriptions, plus we have a great selection of books from Laurence King up for grabs.

CR is on Twitter at @creativereview.

To celebrate reaching one million followers on Twitter, we're also offering 30% off all subs packages until midnight (GMT) on Friday October 17 – go here for details.


How We Got to Now

Posted: October 16th, 2014 | Author: Rachael Steven | Filed under: Graphic Design, Illustration, Music Video / Film | Comments Off

London creative collective Peepshow has created opening titles and over 70 animated sequences for a new documentary on PBS exploring the evolution of great ideas and innovations that have shaped the way we lived today.

How We Got to Now is a six-part series presented by science author Steven Johnson. Each hour-long episode explores a different theme – from cold to light, sound and glass – explaining the stories behind key developments in that field and their influence on modern products, science and technologies.

It also considers the unintended consequences of ideas - an episode on sound, for example, explains amplified sound’s impact on modern warfare and the invention of ultrasound, while one on cold explores connections between artificial refrigeration, voting patterns and the golden age of Hollywood cinema.

Peepshow worked on the show for around nine months, producing animations which combine collage, photography and illustration. Science-related motion graphics often rely on slick infographics and zooming shots of planets and galaxies, but the sequences in How We Got to Now have a lo-fi, handmade feel.

In some scenes, line drawings are overlaid on live action footage, while others combine black and white photography with sketches of planes, trains, buildings, cityscapes and scientific formulae, creating a varied, layered style:

 

Title card for an episode on 'Clean'

Pete Mellor, who oversaw the animation, says the initial brief for the project was loosely inspired by an animated promo for Johnson’s book Where Good Ideas Come From, which featured a series of illustrations drawn on a whiteboard:

“One of the things the network also mentioned in the initial brief was that they wanted the animations to look like the inside of Steven Johnson’s brain as he worked things out – a mix of drawings, sketches, animation and images,” he says.

“The way I pictured it in my head at first was as a kind of notebook to the show – as if Steven had given the director a scrapbook with pictures and notations and workings out."

Art director Luke Best, who created the collages and drawings for each sequence, says that while animations became a little more fast-paced than initially intended, they remain "restrained."

"One of the things we also agreed from the outset was that we didn’t want to make them funny – people have different perceptions of what’s funny, and creating some kind of Terry Gilliam-style sequence was something the production company was keen to avoid," he explains.

"It was quite a big risk to commission graphics that are very different to the kind you’d usually see in this type of show – I really like the idea of explaining complicated theories through simple, hand made drawings, instead of using ... pie charts or footage of zooming through someones eyeball and through the universe. It’s not that theres anything wrong with that – we just wanted to do something different," he adds.

For each episode, Peepshow received a script with notes on where the director wanted to add some animation. "After filming, we'd look at the footage and discuss which parts we thought would work well as animated sequences, and which we thought would be best represented by live action or archive photography," explains Best.

"If it was an initial script meeting, you could also suggest how something should be shot shot to tie in with the sequences. Though as it's a documentary, you also had to be prepared for the fact that some scenes would turn out differently, or be cut altogether," says Mellor.

"I think they really appreciated that we were willing to problem solve," adds Best. "Because of our illustration and art direction background, they could come to us with half-formed ideas or basic concepts and we could work out how to best to represent that visually using collage or mark making."

With a different director for each episode, Best and Peepshow co-founder Miles Donovan say it was important to ensure the visual language was flexible, yet strong enough to look consistent across the series. "Different directors will treat animated scenes differently, and some would want a more narrative-based sequence than others ... I had a few visual rules – I did all of the drawings with the same pen so there was consistency with the mark-making," explains Best.

"We also had quite a small team of animators, so Pete could work closely with them to oversee consistency with the animations and remain as faithful as possible to Luke’s artwork," adds Donovan.

"It was fun seeing people from quite a slick motion graphics background adjusting to working on these kind of lo-fi illustrations – ones where it’s OK if someone has no legs, or their head is cropped off," says Mellor.

One of the biggest challenges when devising sequences for the show was working out how best to represent abstract and complex theories and present everyday objects in an unusual or novel way, says Best.

"Some things were really tricky to animate – with a sequence about the radiometric clock, for example, I didn’t want to just show an image of a clock," he explains. "We had a general rule that we’d try and avoid showing something the easy way if it didn’t really add anything to the commentary. Other times, you'd get a list of the topics the sequence had to cover and think, theres nothing visually connecting this. It was fun though, thinking about new ways of representing things, [such as] re-designing a chemical symbol, or visualising sound without just using an image of a soundwave," he adds.

Each sequence also required a significant amount of research: Best worked with a picture researcher on the series, but sourced the majority of images for collages himself.

"With the collage elements, it was easier to just find my own images – it's difficult to explain what you’re looking for when you’re working in collage. There might be a badly cropped picture or one that to a researcher, will look terrible, but to you, it's perfect," he says. "We do a lot of editorial illustration work, so we’re used to doing a lot of research – but this really pushed our skillset to the limit," he says.

Sketches by Best

Peepshow's artwork has also been used in a book accompanying the show, published by Riverhead, and a website, howwegettonext.com. The next episode will be broadcast on PBS on Wednesday, 22 October at 9pm and the show will be distributed worldwide by BBC.


Musician j.viewz’ new site to reveal the making of an album as it happens

Posted: October 14th, 2014 | Author: Rachael Steven | Filed under: Digital, Music Video / Film | Comments Off

New York musician j.viewz and digital design agency Hello Monday have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund an interactive website that will document the making of a new electronic album as it happens, allowing fans to contribute to tracks and listen to each song as it’s completed.

With just under two days to go, the project has received almost $62,000 in donations from 950 backers, exceeding its target of $60,000. As j.viewz (Jonathan Dagan) demonstrates in a tour of the beta site (below) the project will allow fans to follow the album's progress via a timeline, and view 'the DNA' of the album: audio and video clips and images from recording sessions, meetings and events that influence the development of tracks.

Using existing track Oh Something Quiet, Dagan reveals how a timeline might begin with the idea for a song, then at different points, reveal clips from recording sessions or experiments with vocals and harmonies, as well as the making of the video or album art for that track and incidental events which contributed to its development (Dagan met the visual artist behind the promo for Oh Something's Quiet, for example, after advertising online for a new room mate).

The site will also allow users to download audio samples to remix or use in their own music and upload photos, sounds and art. From time to time, Dagan says he will put out requests for certain sounds or imagery when looking for inspiration, allowing people to contribute to the album, comment as it develops and share content with other users.

 

Dagan says he came up with the idea for the project after completing a song which featured vocals from a singer he’d met on the Subway and was in part inspired by a trip to the South of France.

"I was almost ready to release the song when I thought, 'I can't release it without telling the story [behind it]. It has an artistic value, almost like the song itself," he explains.

Once the website is launched, Dagan will upload tracks in real time, as they are completed, at a rate of around one track per month for ten months. “Usually you finish a song, put it aside and wait for other ones to be completed before you release anything. It almost feels like you’re releasing old material. The concept behind this is to release songs in context - for example, if I make a summer song, I can release it that summer and not two years later," he explains.

 

He also hopes to launch a kind of 'creative toolkit' by uploading samples of beats and music from tracks, as well as unused material from recording sessions. “I might only use ten seconds of a two-hour drum session, but the rest of it is still valuable content, so [with the DNA project] I can share it and let other people do their own thing with it," says Dagan.

"When you make an album, it feels like 80 percent of it sits in a drawer [or on a laptop] and is never seen or heard. Of course, you want to release a crafted, edited version, but with this, I can give those by products [of the album] a little air time, too," he adds.

The DNA Project is one of a number of unusual digital experiments from Dagan, whose rendition of Massive Attack’s Teardrop, played using vegetables which he had turned instruments using a homemade kit which translates electricity signals into keyboard sounds, received over one million views on YouTube alone:

In 2012, the video for the title track from his album Rivers and Homes was nominated for a UK Music Video Award and an MTV O Music Award: after filming a video with Erin Amir and director Shelly Carmel, he printed out every frame and handed the images to fans, who were filmed holding them. Over 200 clips were assembled in a stop motion video and fans could tag themselves online.

He’s also created music using his heart as a metronome and is offering to use Kickstarter backers’ heartbeats in the album (other rewards include CD and vinyl versions of the album and a package containing an item from the making of it, such as an airline ticket, accompanied by a personal letter).

“The vegetables was just a fun experiment and it opened a lot of doors but in general, I want to stay away from anything gimmick-y - there's a fine line between making things interactive and preserving the art," says Dagan.

The site is still in beta testing but Dagan says he hopes to launch it this month and will add new songs at regular intervals until August 2015, when the finished album will be released in digital, CD and vinyl formats.

Promising to deliver a new track roughly every 30 days, and sharing the development of songs in real time is a bold move, but it's a fascinating experiment, and an unusual alternative to releasing clips or finished tracks on Spotify or Soundcloud.

Since Bjork’s pioneering Biophilia app was released in 2010, several artists have experimented with apps and digital projects: Radiohead teamed up with Universal Everything on one which guided viewers through a series of never-ending landscapes, set to music from the song Bloom, while the Roots released a narrative app telling the story of a fictional character on whom their harrowing concept album, undun, was based. Earlier this year The Smiths launched an online timeline, allowing fans to scroll through the band’s history while stopping to listen to tracks along the way.



Most of these projects, however, are designed as visual or narrative accompaniments to finished, edited albums. And while most musicians today regularly post pictures or updates from gigs, tours and recording sessions online, few, if any, have offered an in-depth, real time look at an album's progress, allowing fans to follow the making of it as it happens.

Dagan will still release the album in traditional analogue and digital formats, but the subscription based model encourages fans to regularly check on his progress, while releasing songs individually should help generare fresh excitement for new track.

By offering up sounds and samples for users to play with, the site also encourages interaction between users, creating a sense of community online and providing a kind of creative toolkit for fans and practising musicians.

It wouldn’t work for every artist, but it's a fascinating concept, and it will be interesting to see how the site is used by fans – and how Dagan maintains it – once it’s launched.

See the DNA Project on Kickstarter here.


hClub 100 announced

Posted: October 9th, 2014 | Author: Creative Review | Filed under: Advertising, Art, Digital, Graphic Design, Illustration, Music Video / Film, Photography | Comments Off

Jewellery by Sarah Angold Studio

 

Materials alchemists, designers, artists, dancers and even Sherlock Holmes numbered among this year's hClub 100 list of some of the most inspiring figures in the creative industries

Each year private members' club the Hospital Club invites groups of industry judges, along with the voting public, to nominate inspirational figures across the creative industries, including theatre, TV, advertising, design, fashion and art. This year's group was announced last night.

Kristjana S Williams at last night's hClub 100 event

 

Creative Review was media partner for the Art and Design category where the final ten was as follows:

Ed Atkins, Artist
Hurvin Anderson, Artist
Joe Scotland, Director, Studio Voltaire
Kristjana S Williams, Artist
Laura Pannack, Photographer
Matt Pyke, Artist, Universal Everything
Noma Bar, Designer/Illustrator
Phyllida Barlow, Artist
Tom Evans, Founder, BleepBleeps
Pascal Bronner & Thomas Hillier, Artists, FleaFollyArchitects (people's choice winner, elected by public vote)

 

Photographer Laura Pannack

 

The 100 includes the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Idris Elba and Benedict Cumberbatch along with musician Jon Hopkins, directors Ben Wheatley and Ringan Ledwidge, producer Juliette Larthe of Pretty Bird, Nils Leonard of Grey, Fi Scott of Make Works, Penny Martin of The Gentlewoman and Syd Lawrence and Tom Gibby of We Make Awesome Shit.

 

 

Also featured is Sarah Angold (above, as chosen in the Fashion category sponsored by CR's sister brand Fashion Monitor) whose studio combines extraordinary jewellery and lighting design with installations for the likes of the Design Museum and Tate Modern.

 

And, with surely one of the most unusual stories of the 100, self-styled Materials Alchemist Lauren Bowker (above) who invented the carbon emission sensing ink PdCl2 while still a teenager, went to study textiles at the RCA and now leads consultancy The Unseen "with material science, knowledge and visions infused by Magick".

The Unseen's projects include materials which change colour in response to their environment such as THEUNSEENAIR, a wind-reactive ink

 

 

 

See the full list of inspiring individuals here

 


Twin Peaks: titles of the strangest type

Posted: October 6th, 2014 | Author: Mark Sinclair | Filed under: Graphic Design, Music Video / Film, Type / Typography | Comments Off

Twenty six years after it first aired on television, David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks is to return to screens in 2016. A video announcement enthralled Twitter earlier today, with many welcoming the return of the show's puzzling plotlines, surreal characters and haunting soundtrack. For me, what added to the strangeness of the original show was the jarring type that opened each episode – and it, too, looks set to reappear...

In 1990, I was 13 and Twin Peaks was the strangest thing I had ever seen on TV. According to a New York Times article from that year, the show first aired on BBC2 at 9pm on a Tuesday evening in October, the pilot episode attracting 8.15 million viewers in the UK.

Last Friday, identical 'twin' tweets were sent out by Frost and Lynch at 11.30am both stating "Dear Twitter Friends: That gum you like is going to come back in style. #damngoodcoffee". As well as including two references to the original series, fansite Welcome to Twin Peaks also noted that in its pilot episode, Kyle MacLachlan's character special agent Cooper first enters the town at exactly the same time. (Now that's a fansite.)

 

Today, with rumours buzzing, Lynch then tweeted a link to "a special Twin Peaks announcement" on YouTube (above); a clip which showed Sheryl Lee's Laura Palmer character, a shot of the 'Welcome to Twin Peaks' road sign from the opening titles and the words "25 years later" and "2016" followed by the Showtime logo.

So Lynch and co. were going to go return to the town as if it were the present day? Amazing. Yet seeing that unnerving lettering took me back rather than forwards.

 

The opening theme by Angelo Badalamenti remains one of my favourite pieces of TV music but, until today, I hadn't really thought about the how the visual part of the show's opening titles (designed by Pacific Titles) had managed to convey a sense of unease. It did this partly through typography which appeared, incongruously, over a calm backdrop of mountains and waterfalls, heavy industry and the winding roads of the Pacific northwest.

(For a high quality video of the opening title sequence, see the excellent post at artofthetitle.com – which analyses it in some detail.)

 

Looking at the sequence anew, the other odd thing I noticed was that when the show's title first appears, brilliantly timed with the crescendo of the main theme, it arrives with the 'Welcome to Twin Peaks' sign in the same shot. The traditional, panelled hand-painted sign – already announcing your arrival in Twin Peaks – is doubled-up. Who has the name of their show appear twice in the same shot of the opening titles? David Lynch, no doubt.

And not by anything that looks like the first sign either: the title is displayed in a modern-looking serif, a rusty brown outlined by a sickly bright green, in full caps. It still looks so strange today.

"And while the slow transitions and sleepy imagery impart a sense of tranquility, the overall mood of the sequence implies something sinister or somehow unnatural," writes Shaun Mir on Art of the Title.

"The combination of small town serenity with the eerily empathic score creates a sense of comfort while simultaneously hinting at the underlying truth about the setting. Notably, the town's residents are absent from the sequence, underscoring the fact that the most important character in the series is the town of Twin Peaks itself."

 

Researching the opening sequence lead me to an online discussion of the type that was used. Most commenters who concurred (and that's really not that many commenters) agreed on a single typeface: ITC Avant Garde Gothic Condensed Demi Bold. One of ITC's first families, the full alphabet was designed by Tom Carnese who worked from the logotype for Avant Garde magazine, created by his design partner Herb Lubalin in 1968 (Ed Benguiat later drew up the condensed designs in 1974).

I doubt that Frost and Lynch, or the person behind the design of the Twin Peaks titles, were attempting a wry reference to the kind of work they were helping to create – yet this was 'avant garde' television and certainly felt so in 1990 (though my 13 year-old self would no doubt have just thought it weird-looking.)

Perhaps there's something in it. While potentially retaining the same look and feel that Twin Peaks fans have hankered for the return of for several years, there's also one subtle difference in the type used in the new trailer. It's the same typeface alright – but it's oblique. By accident or design, that certainly sounds very Lynchian.

A nine-episode series of Twin Peaks is set to return in 2016 on the Showtime network in the US. For a more details on the opening title sequence to the original pilot and series, see artofthetitle.com


CR October iPad edition

Posted: October 3rd, 2014 | Author: Creative Review | Filed under: Advertising, Art, Books, Digital, Graphic Design, Illustration, Magazine / Newspaper, Music Video / Film, Photography, Type / Typography | Comments Off

The October issue of CR - a fashion special - is also available for iPad, where you'll find all the print mag content and monograph plus exclusive additional content in Hi Res, our showcase gallery section, and CRTV, with video profiles of creative people, animations and other moving image work from around the world....


In Features we talk to the founder of clothing brand Folk Cathal McAteer and the brand's regular graphic design collaborators IYA Studio; and new British-made shirt brand Tripl Stitched who work with up and coming illustrators including Jack Cunningham (who created this month's cover). Plus the future of in-store shopping experiences; fashion films; the rise of the Instagram fashion blogger; and why carrier bags are collectors items.

Along with a review of new book Read Me: Ten Lessons for Writing Great Copy; a look at the history of VW ads; and not forgetting our lovely regular columns from Michael Evamy, Daniel Benneworth-Gray and Paul Belford.

In Hi Res you'll find emerging talent from new book Fashion Photography Next; we revisit our favourite illustration commissions for CR's last monograph; Jonny Hannah's illustrated tour of the mysterious Darktown; work photographers navigating the balance between art and commerce in The Art of Fashion Photography; design ephemera of 1980s youth culture from new publication Rave Art; a graphic history of Soviet Space Dogs; Mark Wallinger's London Underground project Labyrinth collected in a new book; and absurdist DIY flyers from illustrator Nathaniel Russell.

CRTV includes profiles on illustrators Wasted Rita and Stanley Chow; a selection of fashion films from White Lodge and Nowness; Blue Zoo's animation The First Murder featuring the voice of Adam Buxton; a behind-the-scene look at Film4's new idents; and new work from stop-motion animation duo Kijek/Adamski.

 

To submit work for consideration for CRTV or Hi Res, please email antonia.wilson@centaur.co.uk

For further info on the CR iPad app or to subscribe, click here.