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:

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