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memphis awarded movie poster of the day_082914

memphis_poster_layered_v2_resized

our poster for tim sutton’s memphis was kindly selected as movie poster of the day by adrian curry on his blog of the same name. adrian writes for film comment, MUBI?and is the design director for zeitgeist films. we’re thrilled to have made the cut ? thank you, adrian.

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film posters (part 3)_060414

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here’s another selection of film poster work from us. once again, some of these pieces were used whilst?others ended up hitting the cutting room floor.?either way they all offer an insight into our working process with our collaborators,?and consequently the?overall climate of film poster design today.

memphis_poster_4
1
5
memphis_poster_3c
2
memphis_poster_7
6a

once again a huge thank you to all the filmmakers who’ve given us the chance to work on their films. the process is always as thrilling as it is educational.

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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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2
3
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6
7
8
9
10

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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wild light_100313

65_wildlight_cover_750

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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the east_060113

the east poster 8

fans of hard working, thought provoking science fiction would do well to tune into the work of brit marling, zal batmanglij and mike cahill. collectively through their films sound of my voice and??another earth?they are pushing for a return to the lo-fi, conceptual science fiction that andrei tarkovsky and his ilk brought to our shores in the 1970s. these days watching a film that presents a challenging alternative and forward thinking perspective, in which most complex visual effect is a tattoo or another planet in the sky, you can’t help but smile. the world has fallen so hard to its knees at the shrine of multi-million dollar visual effects that we’ve had to pretend it’s the only entertaining solution we have left for fear of revealing our broken knee-caps. fortunately this new crop of angry young directors, including shane carruth, seem out to prove that we don’t need a great deal of money to take you on a hard and fast trip into the vortex of psychological imbalances our future clearly holds.

i was fortunate enough to catch an early screening of director zal batmanglij’s new film?the east in new york a couple of weeks ago. whilst zal has steered away from science-fiction for this outing, its anger for change is still achingly present and once again i raised my proverbial glass to the immense power of a relatively low-budget production and how loud it can scream when in the right hands.

of course i had an inkling that once i’d seen the film i’d end up in front of my computer carving out some visual bits and pieces just to help myself calm down. i’d come very close with?sound of my voice and another earth, and as some will have noted?could not be held back when it came to?beyond the black rainbow. so what you see here, both above and below, are a series of posters i made as the images, sounds and ideas that?the east presented to me lingered in my head.

the east poster 6
the east poster 3
the east poster 4
the east poster 7
the east poster 5
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protomen 10 year anniversary_042513

protomen 10 year poster

our dear friends?the protomen are 10 years old this year – the same age as us in fact. above is the poster we created for their anniversary show in nashville this weekend. hidden in it are various artifacts dating back to when they recorded their first song, due vendetta. hard copies are of course available at the show, and likely afterwards too.

here’s to another 10 years as magnificent as the last.

cheers,

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caspar vs. monocle magazine_022813

monocle march 2013 cover

caspar was recently interviewed for monocle magazine. here’s an excerpt from the piece –

describe your work with bands.
i am responsible for visually creating their sound. i get images in my head from listening to their music and create everything from sleeves, posters and videos to documentaries. i only work with bands i like.

is art more influential in the music business now?
record labels have faded. bands work with us on artwork and we in turn can become a catalyst for them working with each other. it’s a creative nucleus. we all talk online but it’s as though we’re meeting up in a bar. it’s unusual that so many bands are grouped around us, linked by interest in our design ethic rather than necessarily sharing a musical theme. i’m treated like a band member – i’ve even gone on tour.

we’d like to thank belinda bamber for conducting such a wonderful interview, and of course?joshua simpson?for taking the great photographs.

you can read the rest of the interview here. the magazine itself is in stores now.

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film posters (part 2)_011613

future weather poster

following up on our previous film poster round-up, here are a selection of recent film posters we’ve produced for various filmmaker collaborators. it’s worth noting this time around that some of the editions you see here weren’t actually used to promote the respective films in the end. however in retrospect we felt they were worth seeing nevertheless – if anything they can now be seeing as ‘fan posters’ of a sort.

LUV poster
detroit unleaded poster
pavilion poster
brooklyn brothers beat the best poster

as ever we look forward to what’s next and further honing our skills in this really very new and exciting aspect of what we do. a huge shout out and thanks to the filmmakers who’ve granted us these opportunities thus far.

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your days are numbered_120312


about this time a year ago i was back in england with my brother wandering around london buying gifts and the like. at some point somewhere between the various shops we’d been to, i ended up with a tabloid sized newspaper in my bag with an drawing of iron man on the front, bleeding from his eyes. just above his head in a circle read the words, your days are numbered.

sitting down to grab a bite somewhere in soho i pulled out the paper and spread it across the table in front of us. immediately i was taken aback by the design of the layouts on every page. it’s long been a great sadness of mine that so few seem to have learned from magazines like the ray gun and the face, that one should endeavour to design layouts in response to their content, rather than the other way around. of course to find that this?free publication was being braver than the majority of expensive mags weighing down the racks in shops worldwide, should of course have come as absolutely no surprise. free fanzines and their brethren have been developing their punk aesthetic this way for decades now, and this new beauty in front of me was clearly no different.

in their own words, your days are numbered?is an independent graphic fiction magazine documenting the world around creators, comics and pop-culture. a world that whilst i have a huge respect and appreciation for, am absolutely ready to admit i’m not involved in as much as i would like, or perhaps should be. this ostentatiously designed thing lying spread-eagle over my burger and fries however, was about to pull me in deeper into that world that i ever thought i’d go.

arriving back in new york i found the issue in my bags and immediately pinned it to my bedroom wall. if anything it was simply going to remind that there’s still hope. however, over the next few days i kept looking at it and eventually pulled it down from the wall, opened it up and flipped to the masthead. i was going to write to these guys. they had to know how brilliant i thought they were, and as is my curse, i was absolutely going to offer to work for them, at whatever cost. it’s one thing to think something’s great, another thing to encourage them to continue – but if you really believe that what they’re doing is great, you have to work to take them to another level in whatever capacity you can.

firing off an email into the void, it was quite a while before i got a response. eventually i got a very nice email from their editor steve turner who immediately pointed out the humour in the fact that i was an english guy in new york writing to an american in london, and pretty soon we were talking about all of that and more. they immediately asked if i was interested in doing a layout or two for the next issue. not just that, they were asking if i wanted to layout an interview with alex garland?about the script he’d just written for the new judge dredd feature film. as a fan of dredd from when i was kid, and a big critic of alex garland’s work, it was perhaps more than i could have ever hoped for. certainly as my first shot at designing a magazine layout of any sort.

they were very clear about the fact that i could absolutely do whatever i wanted, and simply sent me text and images to work with. i couldn’t really ask for more.

then another serendipitous thing happened. a parcel had arrived in our studio during the spring containing a big brick of a comic book with the title king city. i had no idea who had sent it and during some time off in los angeles this summer to edit a short film i’ve been working on, i started to read it. it was captivating to say the least. the artwork, whilst not typically my style, married so beautifully with the playful dialogue, characters and science fiction concepts, that i was a quick convert. in fact i had to take care to not read it too fast, as comic books in my experience are too easily ripped through and thrown in a pile never to be visited again, and i’d not enjoyed one this much in a while.

after emailing around, curious as to where the book had materialized from, i soon discovered an old friend and comic book enthusiast had simply thought i might enjoy it, so had fired it off at me from his amazon account.

well of course then i get an email from steve at YDAN saying that they had another layout they were interested in me doing, an interview with the creator of?king citybrandon graham. once again i’d been blessed with that sacred thing in design – a great love and understanding of the content i was being asked to lay out. furthermore after being put in touch with brandon so that i could get some of his artwork from him, he offered to do a custom drawing just for the interview. i was over the moon. i set to work immediately, once again on two double page spreads and whilst this was definitely a tougher layout this time, am happy with the results.

afterall you can only do so much before the words have to take precedent, but i felt the balance between what was readable and how much character i got to put into the layouts in order to make it a memorable and exciting reading experience, was good.

the brandon graham issue is now on the shelves and i’m told doing better than any issue they’ve had before, in their admittedly short life thus far. you can find it in london at rough trade, brick lane coffee, eggs milk butter and gosh comics. i’m told it’s gonna be winging it’s way into various comic book stores in new york in the not too distant future too. so you know, if you have the means, it is?free afterall. whether you’re a comic book fan or not, steve and his team are doing the most fucking fantastic job of covering all sorts of relevant content.?most importantly of all however, they are trying to make every issue powerfully different, entertaining just to flip through and fully immersive once you get reading.

sitting back and looking at the various issues laying now on my desk and talking about the whole situation with steve, and some other friends, i am beginning to see the incredible potential of what these guys are trying to do here. more so than i perhaps did at first. it’s been too long since i’ve been excited by any publications of this kind (excluding of course the mighty little white lies), and i feel like?your days are numbered could comfortably be a part of any new vanguard movement striving to show people what a little free will, free press and design fundamentalism can achieve. i am very happy to be a part of this team and am excited to see where they steer this ship to next. i’ve been asking to be involved in magazines of one form or another for a long time, and in many ways i think i may well have found the most perfect spot to exorcise all the demons i have haunting my thoughts about the printed publication world.

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aesthetically speaking_042812


my latest IFP article is a call to arms to designers and those employing them, to raise the standard in terms of what is aesthetically acceptable. it’s very easy to dismiss the need for a good looking visual design, when money is short and the immediate gains are negligible. the article strives to point out however that the long-term affects of these decisions can be quite damaging, both psychologically and sociologically. here’s an excerpt from the piece –

“to reiterate once and for all, it?s our responsibility as human beings to remember there?s a lot of people on the planet who have no control over the look of the world around them and who are ruled by those who want to ?make a buck?. those of us that must suffer living beneath billboards towering above, promising soulless dreams, the garishly coloured junk food wrappers sitting in the gutter, the television commercials selling drugs for pains that don?t exist, the dying buildings built with cheap materials slumping under the weight of their own short lives, the angry faces and the lack of respect for anything. these people aren?t idiots. they know better than anyone that the look of the world around them massively affects their subconscious state of mind. they know it when they walk out of their rotting front door, glance at the grey sky, the paint peeling from the walls of their neighbour?s house across the street, scrape the ice from their car?s windshield with the splintering lid of a margarine tub, curse as the car won?t start and their foot goes through the rusted bottom of it as they lash out in anger. they know it when some of them later get drunk and walk around smashing windows, keying car doors, spray-painting church walls, and beating people up ? all scenes I?ve witnessed in my years growing up in england in the suburbs of cambridge, 3 years at university in manchester and later living in bedford-stuyvesant in new york city. It?s a level of rage that I can support and forgive when places like that?are?your reality. try getting mugged at 8:30am on your way to work, as i was in 2008, and being told by the cops that there?s no point in reporting it.

some of these people?hate?the world around them. they know what the end-game is better than the thoughtless assholes who make the products, create the ads for them and leave those ads gathering mould on some rusted old bus-stop sign, 23 stops out of town in some relentless nightmare of a burnt out suburb. the sorts of places that otherwise only filmmakers dare frequent in order to make their gritty melodramas. we have got to remember that every small gesture toward making things simply functional, that disregards how much ?greyer? you are making the user?s day, is a very valid negative point.”

you can read the rest of the article here.

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