Dutch design legend Wim Crouwel

He started out as a painter, but got hooked on typography instead. Let’s take a look at the fantastic grid-based typographic works of living design icon Wim Crouwel.

Willem Hendrik Crouwel is an influential Dutch graphic designer born in 1928. After studying fine art in his home town of Groningen, he set out to be an expressionist painter. In the early 1950s Crouwel designed his first poster and he was instantly hooked on the idea of aesthetically arranging visual information.

Crouwel’s design career took shape in designing posters and catalogues for the Van Abbe Museum during the latter part of the ’50s. In 1963 he co-founded a design studio called Total Design and from 1964, Crouwel was responsible for the design of the posters, catalogues and other visual material for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Heavily influenced by grid-based International Typographic Style, Crouwel is a purist at heart, yet his work displays a playful view on design and typography. He expressed the idea that design should simply communicate information to the viewer with as few ornaments and as little styling as possible.

Crouwel is still an active member of the Dutch graphic design scene as an advisor in Total Identity (previously called Total Design). The company has over 150 designers working in 6 cities.

Here’s a short (3:56) video profile on Wim Crouwel followed by 30 fine examples of his oft-imitated work. Enjoy!

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

The work of Wim Crouwel

Sources:

The beautiful calligraphy of Luca Barcellona

I just read the interview with Milan based designer Luca Barcellona in the debut issue of Codex (the cover of which features his work) and I am inspired by his philosophies and dedicated approach…

I just read the interview with Milan based designer Luca Barcellona in the debut issue of Codex (the cover of which features his work) and I am inspired by his philosophies and dedicated approach to his craft.

“Writing is strictly connected with the message it delivers. There is a writing style for every word or message you want to show.” – Luca Barcellona, Codex Issue 01

Luca enjoys practicing by illustrating words or phrases from music he finds personally meaningful. His skills have been called in by global brands such as Carhartt, Nike, Zoo York, Dolce&Gabbana, Sony BMG and Volvo, but what keeps him passionate is the never-ending quest for for new styles and mediums.

A few examples of Luca’s work from his Flickr:

The calligraphy of Luca Barcellona

The calligraphy of Luca Barcellona

The calligraphy of Luca Barcellona

The calligraphy of Luca Barcellona

The calligraphy of Luca Barcellona

The calligraphy of Luca Barcellona

The calligraphy of Luca Barcellona

The calligraphy of Luca Barcellona

The calligraphy of Luca Barcellona

The calligraphy of Luca Barcellona

The calligraphy of Luca Barcellona

The calligraphy of Luca Barcellona

See Luca Barcellona in action, creating the above piece. Absolutely mesmerising:

The word paintings of Edward Ruscha

You know those pictures all the cool kids post on their Tumblrs – the ones with a seemingly profound phrase overlaid on some nostalgic photo? Ed might be to blame for that trend…

You know those pictures all the cool kids post on their Tumblrs – the ones with a seemingly profound phrase overlaid on some nostalgic photo? If you ever wondered who’s to blame for this trend, you might have to look back a little further than 2009…

The very first of Ed Ruscha’s word paintings were created as oil paintings on paper in Paris in 1961. Since 1964, Ruscha has been experimenting regularly with painting and drawing words and phrases, often oddly comic and satirical sayings alluding to popular culture and life in LA.

So, yeah, Edward Ruscha’s been making those type of images since the early 1960s, only he didn’t use Photoshop. In fact, paint was also way too mainstream for Ed:

Ruscha experimented with a range of materials including gunpowder, vinyl, blood, red wine, fruit and vegetable juices, axle grease, chocolate syrup, tomato paste, bolognese sauce, cherry pie, coffee, caviar, daffodils, tulips, raw eggs and grass stains.

Here are a few examples of his varied typographic artworks:

The art of Edward Ruscha

1938
1958. Oil & pencil on canvas.

The art of Edward Ruscha

OOF
1962 (reworked 1963). Oil on canvas.

The art of Edward Ruscha

N.Y.
1965. Oil on linen.

The art of Edward Ruscha

Raw
1971. Ivy on sized canvas.

The art of Edward Ruscha

Pure Ecstacy
1974. Tea on moire.

The art of Edward Ruscha

A Blvd. Called Sunset
1975. Blackberry juice on moire.

The art of Edward Ruscha

SMELLS LIKE BACK OF OLD HOT RADIO
1976. Pastel on paper.

The art of Edward Ruscha

ARTISTS WHO DO BOOKS
1976. Pastel on paper.

The art of Edward Ruscha

Boxer
1979. Oil on canvas.

The art of Edward Ruscha

Friction and Wear
1983. Oil on canvas.

The art of Edward Ruscha

The End
1991. Synthetic polymer paint and graphite on canvas.

The art of Edward Ruscha

Tulsa Slut
2002.
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas.

The art of Edward Ruscha

Pay Nothing Until April
2003. Acrylic on canvas.

The art of Edward Ruscha

DAILY PLANET
2003. Acrylic on canvas.

Find out more about Ed Ruscha and his work:

Layered font systems from Match & Kerosene

Alexander Sheldon hails from Detroit Rock City where he has immersed himself in the local music scene as both guitarist and designer. Layered font systems seem to kinda be his thing.

Alexander Sheldon hails from Detroit Rock City where he has immersed himself in the local music scene as both guitarist and designer. In addition to MySpace themes, CD packaging and band merch, he has a few intriguing fonts on offer under the banner of Match & Kerosene.

Creating layered font systems seems to kinda be his thing. The idea is that you can stack alternate versions of the font, one on top of another, creating some very interesting results.

Grizzly Bear:

Layered fonts from Match & Kerosene

Layered fonts from Match & Kerosene

Layered fonts from Match & Kerosene

Detroit:

Layered fonts from Match & Kerosene

Layered fonts from Match & Kerosene

Layered fonts from Match & Kerosene

Duotone:

Layered fonts from Match & Kerosene

Layered fonts from Match & Kerosene

Layered fonts from Match & Kerosene

Found via designworklife.

Keeping an eye on Colin Dunn and friends

You know that feeling of slight annoyance when you come across really nice design work on a bunch of different sites, and each time you check who did it, it ends up being the same person? Well, lately Colin Dunn has been that guy…

You know that feeling of slight annoyance when you come across really nice design work on a bunch of different sites, and each time you check who did it, it turns out to be the same person? Well, lately Colin Dunn has been that guy – and what makes it worse is he hasn’t even graduated college yet!

A student at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, one of his latest projects involved teaming up with classmate James Anderson to brand the MICA graphic design department:

The design work of Colin Dunn

The design work of Colin Dunn

The design work of Colin Dunn

A few more examples from Colin’s growing portfolio:

The design work of Colin Dunn

The design work of Colin Dunn

The design work of Colin Dunn

The design work of Colin Dunn

The design work of Colin Dunn

The design work of Colin Dunn

The design work of Colin Dunn

The design work of Colin Dunn

Also of interest is the Hand-Painted Signs of Baltimore set on Colin’s Flickr.

The typography of Water for Elephants

A fascinating example of how graphic design plays a vital role in movie production, yet goes virtually unnoticed amidst the drama!

My wife finally dragged me kicking and screaming to sit down and watch Water for Elephants with her on DVD. A tearjerking romantic drama was not at the top of my list of fun ways to spend a Saturday night, but I must admit it wasn’t that bad.

Throughout the film I was impressed by the attention to detail in the set design. It was clear that a lot of work went into the graphic design and the vintage circus typography.

Realising that I am probably not the only one whose attention was caught, I Googled the subject to see what others have said. I instantly hit gold – a write-up from Karen TenEyck, the graphic designer responsible! I recommend reading the article as it contains a lot of fascinating behind-the-scenes insight. Download it here a a PDF:

ADG Perspective Magazine Jun/Jul 2011, pages 34 – 41 (1.6MB).

Working with production designer Jack Fisk, art director David Crank and set decorator Jim Erickson, Karen produced a mammoth collection of posters, banners, signs, branding and packaging used to give the film that convincing 1930s atmosphere.

Another challenge for period films is that fonts made for the computer do not do justice to the hand-crafted look of the time, even if they are based on old styles. They are simply too perfect. Yet with the current trend of less and less prep time, I needed to find ways to shortcut the process and get the same effects. One of the ways I have been able to do this is by creating my own fonts based on the fifty-plus period lettering and advertising books I own. I am able to give these fonts the imperfect look of hand-drawn letters done with a lettering brush. Because they are turned into fonts that I can type with, it speeds up the process considerably down the line as decisions are made closer to filming. – Karen TenEyck

Take a look at some of Karen’s work in action:

Water for Elephants graphic design by Karen TenEyck

Water for Elephants graphic design by Karen TenEyck

Water for Elephants graphic design by Karen TenEyck

Water for Elephants graphic design by Karen TenEyck

Water for Elephants graphic design by Karen TenEyck

Finally, the film also has a very nice end title screen which was not designed by Karen, but by a Los Angeles studio called River Road Creative:

Water for Elephants end title

A peek inside the portfolio of Bruce Mackay

I became aware of Bruce Mackay’s unique illustration style a year ago when I saw a cool drawing he did of a skeleton drinking a beer. Needless to say I was instantly compelled to follow his work online and as it turns out he is a fellow Capetonian…

I became aware of Bruce Mackay’s unique illustration style a year ago when I saw a cool  drawing he did of a skeleton drinking a beer. Needless to say I was instantly compelled to follow his work online and as it turns out he is a fellow Capetonian. Browsing through his portfolio I came across some nice lettering and typographic pieces, take a look:

The work of Bruce Mackay

The work of Bruce Mackay

The work of Bruce Mackay

The work of Bruce Mackay

The work of Bruce Mackay

The work of Bruce Mackay

You can see a lot more killer stuff from Bruce on his blog, Flickr and Bēhance.

Mr. Coffee

Even though I have never met the man, this very nice poster designed by Simon Ålander reveals three things we share in common…

Even though I have never met the man, I have at least three things in common with Simon Ålander:

  1. we both love typography
  2. we both love Lagwagon
  3. we both love coffee

That probably explains why I like this poster so much:

Coffee poster by Simon Ålander

I always enjoy seeing preparatory sketches, it gives design work such authenticity:

Coffee poster by Simon Ålander

According to his site coffeemademedoit.com, Simon is studying at Hyper Island and is available for internship starting November 2011.

Jon Contino

The super productive Jon Contino has just relaunched his portfolio stuffed with great typographical works and since I have been planning to post something about him, it is as good a time as ever to do so.

The super productive Jon Contino has just relaunched his portfolio stuffed with great typographical works and since I have been planning to post something about him, it is as good a time as ever to do so.

He calls himself an Alphastructaesthetitologist, but in my mind Contino is simply the king of NYC hand lettering. The raw old-world feel of his work certainly strikes a chord with me, and his impressive client list suggests I am not alone in my sentiments.

I have been trying my best at creating a time machine through lettering. – Jon Contino

If you were wondering where his talent stems from, Jon claims that his mom’s hand is consistently better than his own lettering and she always shows him up when it comes to holiday cards!

It’s hard to select a fair representation from his diverse portfolio, but below are a few examples of Jon Contino’s work. For plenty more check out his website, blog and his brand CXXVI.

The works of Jon Contino

The works of Jon Contino

The works of Jon Contino

The works of Jon Contino

The works of Jon Contino

The works of Jon Contino
I was lucky enough to snag one of these puppies from CXXVI before they sold out.

The works of Jon Contino

The works of Jon Contino