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giles vs. huffington post_052814

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giles was interviewed for huffington post a couple of weeks ago. the piece, which sits?in their small business section,?is important to us as it expresses concisely how far we’ve come as a company and where we stand ideologically to this day. it’s not often?you get?an exact thing you can point at whenever people ask you where you’re at, but now we have one. a huge thanks?to brian kil for granting?us this opportunity to be this outspoken, and on such a high platform.

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65daysofstatic japanese tour promo video_051214


65daysofstatic, no strangers to touring japan, asked us to put together a small promo clip for their forthcoming japanese tour. using footage we shot the last time they toured out there, this piece gives you a little taste of what it’s like to be right there with them on the road to such places.

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call girl_031114

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in the last days of 2013 whilst on a longish trip back to england, i sat down with my brother to watch a film called call girl. we didn’t know anything about it – in fact i’d picked it up because i liked the typography used for the film’s logo. it was close to midnight, we filled our whiskey glasses and slung the disc into the playstation. i said one word during the entire viewing. in fact i said that one word twice. the word was ‘fuck.’

call girl came out in 2012. it’s basically unheard of here in the US, and even harder to get a physical copy of. heck it was tough enough to find a pressing of the soundtrack that anyone would ship to england, let alone new york. whether this is to do with the controversy that surrounds the film, or simply because for some reason it failed to pickup a good distribution deal, is unclear.

call girl documents a political catastrophe in the 1970s that is still such a sore matter for those involved in sweden, that the film had to be heavily edited after it’s festival screenings in order for it to make the public domain. without going into the story, i’ll add that it’s one of the most beautifully written, shot, edited, scored, acted and packaged films i’ve seen in a long time. after watching it i immediately picked up a copy for a friend in england, and have since screened my copy for as many friends as i can in new york.

soon after returning from england i began to steal an hour here or there amongst my regular projects, to piece together notes, take screen snapshots and cut together various layouts. a day or so ago a much larger film related project landed – one that would truly require every second i had left in each day – and i had to save the files, export them and put this particular aside to rest.

there’s no real need to go into why the posters turned out the way they did, but they certainly follow my long-running ethos that the artwork supporting a film or record should in every capacity echo the tone, message and overall aesthetic value of that work. i hope you enjoy each of the 10 editions i’ve put together in different ways, and ultimately take the time to see the film (and buy the soundtrack) as soon as you can.

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my gratitude to daniel carlsten who’s typographic work on the film drew me to it. my congratulations to ?for such masterful directing, to hoyte van hoytema (let the right one in) for a level of cinematography the likes of which i wish every film could be blessed with, and lastly to mattias b?rjed for an incendiary soundtrack. one i am?still trying to get on vinyl.

for more information about the film click here.

cheers,

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memphis_011414

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tim sutton’s new feature film MEMPHIS is having it’s US premiere at the sundance film festival this week. the film stars the incendiary singer willis earl beal and chases, in the form of a filmic essay, the ever-fleeting soul of the creative process. as some of you know we have had the great honour of working on this film and you can read more about that in an interview we did with black book magazine here.

since putting together the posters for the film, we’ve created a small teaser site to celebrate the sundance acceptance. additionally the film has since been written up in dazed & confused magazine. to say that it’s a thrill to see the film (not to mention one of our photographs) in that legendary periodical would be an understatement.

here’s wishing the whole memphis film team all the success at sundance and beyond. it’s not often enough that films as experimental and searching as this get this sort of recognition.

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thanks to indiewire you can view a brand new trailer for the film below. do please immerse yourself for a moment. to paraphrase one of my favourite songs – nothing quite like the feel of something new.


lastly, if you have the means – see willis earl beal perform live. he’s touring europe in february and i can honestly say that there are very few out there of his caliber. lyrically, musically and performance-wise, he will most assuredly smash you to pieces.

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big black delta photoshoot_120913

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back in june when big black delta were in new york playing a series of shows, we were approached by the experimental photographer jeff brown to do a photoshoot. already huge fans of jeff’s instagram feed and his rich portrait work, we were both flattered and excited.

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settling into jeff’s bushwick studio with enough loud music, alcohol and smokes to fuel several epiphanies, we watched him work his magic.

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photo by camila grey

the general approach i’d discussed with him of course centered around something cosmic, yet within the realm of standard portraiture.?in order to achieve this he brought several cameras to the fore, including a canon 5D and a hasselblad?501 cm?loaded with FP 3000b instant?film. the latter make of camera was responsible for the still photographs of mankind’s first steps on the moon, so it seemed appropriate for this.

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in terms of process, jeff tried a number of interesting techniques including photographing the paper that was peeled off the instant film after an exposure, and then making a negative of this. additionally he scanned the instant film in all manner of shitty ways to create a distressed quality that felt like stars, space dust and other atmospherics.

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once the images were ready, he passed them along to us. we then added a little something?where necessary to bring them that bit further into the big black delta universe. it goes without saying that?the punk nature of the shoot gave the images a more raw, personal and humorous quality. we felt this was important as the same can be said for jon’s own communications with the world, as he continues to push big black delta into new territory in his own personal fashion.

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at the last second jeff insisted i get into the frame for a few shots and ? well let’s just say it was a pretty sweet nebula.

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manifold_102913

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a while back i came head to head with the work of one of my design heroes, eike k?nig. i’d been asked to redesign the logo for the german band booka shade, after many years of eike having been their go-to design guy. it was frankly a terrifying prospect. whilst i was quite sure eike would probably never see the work i did, i would be immediately compared to him by both the band and their large fan base. settling down to create the logo i realized of course that you just do the best thing you can, and make sure that at the very least it’s nothing like the other guy’s work.

when matthew pusti of makeup and vanity set asked me to do the cover for the soundtrack EP to anthony scott burns‘ forthcoming sci-fi short, manifold, i sighed a similar breath of despair. why? because ash thorp had done the film’s poster and of course once again i would have to be compared to someone of considerable status in the graphics world. suffice to say here’s the poster ash had made –

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turning away from it, going for several walks listening to the soundtrack and spinning the film’s ideas around in my head, i realized of course that ash had the visual concept wrapped up. particularly in terms of subtly explaining what the film was about, but not so much as to spoil the film. every idea i wrote down or got momentarily excited about felt too similar to what he was saying with his treatment.

what he didn’t have however, that of course applied in particular to the job i had to do, were the tracks on the EP that had remained unreleased up until now. these were tracks that had been written for, but not actually used in the film. in particular the track ‘yearling,’ which featured original foley work, vied for my attention every time i put the record on.

mulling over these differences i decided to take a different route, one that i’d been flirting with for a while but never really had the chance to test out – a route i like to call the ‘polish’ route. now i must stress this is a route i still haven’t fully explored, but the work i was to do on manifold?certainly gave me the impetus to do so. it is afterall a firmer step in that direction, and excitingly so.

after watching the film several times i began to feel a tingling, almost aching pain in my face. furthermore i began to think about how much value we put in the face and what it means in terms of not just our identity, but our chances in life. how being beautiful can both be a blessing and a curse, and how in many regards you can either be born with a ticket on a certain kind of ride, or a ticket on an entirely different ride. all of this based on your face and how it develops as an image to others.

i then started thinking about how technology is really quite an organic extension of the human form and mindset, and that it wouldn’t be too long before these things merge imperceptibly. in fact i’d written an essay for the IFP on this subject just a few weeks before, so to say the idea was on my mind a little was an understatement. the sense of menace one feels as we start to worry about the increasing amount that technology governs our lives, is really just a greater understanding of our own constant need for distraction from ourselves.

this is when i started to realize what i had to do for?manifold, and furthermore i knew exactly where i was going to start. skipping through the film to a very particular shot, i cut it out and began work. i had to make an image that encapsulated, for me at least, that sense of terror beneath the ever prettier face of technology, and at the same time capture that actual physical ache i felt in my own face after watching the film. as i worked i began to realize that i was also edging closer to this aforementioned ‘polish’ route.

now, by ‘polish’ route i of course mean making a film poster that uses little or none of the imagery from the film and instead offers a more emotional, impressionistic interpretation of its narrative. the eastern-european film posters that have been created in support of US films (with particular reference to poland), are a powerful lesson in creating an image that, to paraphrase jim steinman, you’ll never know the meaning of, but you’ll know how it feels. much in the same way a piece of music moves you in a fashion you cannot put into words, eastern-european posters often remove all trace of the film’s visual, its recognizable characters and its story, and delve headfirst into making an entirely original image. an image that still conveys the film’s ideas, but often in a darker and less conventional style. consequently it’s this approach that has come to feel so incredibly liberating to designers working in US and UK markets. to quote??on the subject??”there?s something captivating about those things that feel inseparable from a haze of abandon, existing to give hope to the creatively forlorn.”

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left: philip gips, US. right: wieslaw walkuski, poland.

when i presented the final cover to matthew pusti, he said it was perfect. i know he would have let me take it even further into the horrifying abstract had i wanted to, but then we both agreed that it was as important to keep things familiar this time around. after all it wasn’t our film and we could just as easily go to poland next time.

you can buy the full manifold soundtrack here, and you can watch a trailer for the film here.

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kaleidoscope pr_101413

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back in 2008 we created a rather simple and elegant flash website for the art and fashion-based PR firm, kaleidoscope consulting. aware now that their site was useless on a range of new platforms but still very much in love with the look and feel of it, they asked us to recreate the site using HTML5 and javascript. in response we proffered that we might add another dimension to the site, and began to scheme this new black + white edition you see before you.?the result is a site that’s fully iphone and ipad compliant, and features not just a kaleidoscope that can be populated with images from your webcam, but also now hand drawn sketches too.

once again we reached out to mr. doob (who’d previously worked with us on the intro to daft punk’s?tronsoundtrack.com) and asked that this time we might integrate elements of his harmony drawing engine into the site. happily he gave us carte blanche and soon we had a new kaleidoscope engine on our hands – one that caters to both the photogenic and sketchy among us.?for this newly ‘harmonized’ white side of the site, our in-house sound designer and composer gavin singleton (aka accelra) created a new piece of music that felt more suited its hand-drawn, softer tone.

lastly we rebuilt the original site’s entire ‘key’ navigated client section around a wordpress backend so that the client could now more easily and swiftly keep this information updated, along with any other site copy.

we trust you’ll enjoy navigating the site as much as we enjoyed the challenge of putting it together.

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wild light_100313

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creative review?asked?to include 65daysofstatic’s wild light album cover in their monthly round-up of great album covers. in doing so they interviewed us about what went into the making of the sleeve –

could you tell me more about the inspiration for this design, how it relates to the music and how you came up with the idea?

65daysofstatic have always had a strong socio-politcal mindset whether that has directly influenced their music or not. therefore it came as no surprise to me that whilst in the studio they’d read and discussed a wide array of contemporary and historical political and artistic literature. for this reason when they approached me to create the artwork for the album i was given a good deal more than just their definition of the term ‘wild light’.

leading with ezra pound’s imagist poem ‘in a station of the metro’ they lead me down a path of minimalist, suprematist and futurist thinking including snippets of conversations they’d had over instant messenger, photographs of sculptures, scans of paintings and lengthy 20th century manifestos. my favourites of which were a book called ‘the vagrant light of stars’ which depicted a memorial to albert einstein being launched into deep space traveling on a beam of light, and a supremacist, communist, modern art children’s book called ‘about 2 squares.’

i’d had the demos for the songs for a while and around the time I received the above documents from the band i’d been given a near final version of the album. what struck me immediately was that whilst minimal in its conception, cinematically speaking the sounds on the record created some incredibly beautiful, richly coloured and vibrant images in my head. tracks like ‘heat death infinity splitter’ and ‘the undertow’ took my mind from a sense of something vast moving through the chaotic depths of outer space, right down to microscopic organisms and cells living in our oceans and under our skin.

bearing all of this in mind I made the cover you see now. appropriately adopting where possible various lines in supremacist, futurist and imagist visual thinking, i created a wide-format piece that i felt resonated with the music as much as with those old explorations of artistic expression. if those were one band of hapless, anti-establishment types trying to evolve our way of thinking about and perceiving the world, here was another band with their designer in tow – trying his best at the impossible task of visualizing music for those who’ve seen everything before.

i understand you’re a fan of 65daysofstatic – how important is it, do you think, that the designer creating cover art engages with or enjoys the music?

in 2006 i wrote to 65 and asked if my business partner giles and I could make their website. i’d seen them live in 2005 in london and knew that – like many of the bands I’ve asked to work with over the years – i’d make my best work if their music was the soundtrack to it. little did I know we’d become such good friends and that I’d be sitting here today having finished not just my third album cover for them, but also the best record cover I think I’ve made to date.

from my perspective being a fan of the music is essential. i give talks to independent filmmakers here in New york on the same subject. I implore them to not pay money to anyone that isn’t already immediately and very clearly a fan of the film they have made. money cannot and will not ever be enough motivation to make a truly beautiful and appropriate design or piece of artwork. despite having worked over 10 years in this role, i continue produce some of my worst work when I am not a fan of the film or music i’m working to support.

the graphic designer david carson pointed out that it’s a gross misconception that you should not judge a book by its cover. everything about how a band presents itself is a reflection of the amount they have cared for and thought about the the music they have made. a record cover is a huge responsibility, particularly so when you’re handed a record like ‘wild light.’ something this good demands to be heard and it’s my job to make sure someone clicks on that cover on the net or picks up that record in the store, even if just out of curiosity. It’s debatable to this day whether an image can represent a sound, but I work based on the belief that you can at least try to achieve such a thing.

an excerpt from this interview can be found on the creative review website here, along with some write-ups of some other great covers. we hope the above interview gives people some further insight into what it’s like working with a band like 65daysofstatic, who’s intense worth-ethic continues to push us to new levels.

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record cover + poster exhibition_091213

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we’ve created an exhibition of our ongoing record cover and poster work over at squarespace. the format of their site and the nature of their templates was immediately conducive to such a concept. immediately following the posting we received a very flattering review over at one of our favourite blogs

“i’m a huge fan of the work of?(version) industries. from their work in?film?to?web?to?video?to?design, they do a grand job every time. they recently launched this?record covers + posters collection?and it’s amazing to see all of their print work at once. i never even realized the big black delta covers were?sewn?together?in that way or that this?makeup and vanity set poster?even existed.”

we hope you enjoy the show.

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i think we’re alone now_090613

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if you spend enough time working on the internet and living up to today’s social networking standards, you certainly begin to feel your mind ache in a way that’s perhaps hard to put your finger on. my latest IFP essay is a brief examination of why this might be and some musings on the future of this situation. here’s an excerpt –

“in 1983 donatella baglivo?filmed an interview?with the russian filmmaker andrei tarkovsky. it was an extensive interview that covered a number of subjects, and fortunately so as tarkovsky was to die but three years later. about an hour into the piece baglivo asks Tarkovsky what advice he had for young people, to which he responded with the following –

‘i think i?d like to say only that they should learn to be alone and try to spend as much time as possible by themselves. i think one of the faults of young people today is that they try to come together around events that are noisy, almost aggressive at times. this desire to be together in order to not feel alone is an unfortunate symptom, in my opinion. every person needs to learn from childhood how to spend time with oneself. that doesn?t mean he should be lonely, but that he shouldn?t grow bored with himself because people who grow bored in their own company seem to me in danger, from a self-esteem point of view.’

what immediately struck me upon hearing tarkovsky?s words is how they contradicted not just the lyrics of the?beach boys?song i?d had on in the background (don?t worry, baby), but also they seemed at odds with my overall instinctual grasp of the situation. after all, it?s not unfair to state that a recommendation that one spend adequate time alone in order to be comfortable with oneself is unexpected advice. what?s more interesting however is that looking around now, 40 years since tarkovsky said these words, our culture has made it increasingly difficult to find the solitude he recommends at all. the latest advances in technology have filled even those moments when we are physically distanced from people with the constant sense that we have? a distracting amount of company. it would be no exaggeration to claim that it?s actually difficult to be by ourselves, nor do we feel like we want to, a situation that the psychologist and MIT social studies professor sherry turkle has suggested is more symptomatic of our loneliness than a cure for it. so as tarkovsky suggests, perhaps despite our social pretensions we are all hiding from ourselves in plain sight.”

you can read the rest of the article here.

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