Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sketch pad

Heartland Projects whizz Emma (see my Heartland Projects love-in post, then read Emma's) is sending through shots from my folio shoot. Here's a sneak peak – a page from my sketchpad– that will make its way to my new website. That's right, mercury is no longer retrograde. Get set for some action.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

I ❤ heartland projects

This week I've been going through the process of having my folio documented by Heartland Projects lead creative Emma Byrnes. This lady is amazing. I have always loved working on projects in collaboration – that's essentially why I am a designer – but once the project is at its completion, even if I am very happy with the outcome I'm usually left experiencing a little mort. Some light switches off inside of me. Good night. Documenting my folio has been on the top of my to-do list for a thousand years. I watch it get booted to the bottom of my list every other week. I blame it on a lack of time but really the thought of getting my work out for a camera lens has filled me with a weird, pathetic dread. On the other side, I'm here to report it wasn't that terrible. In fact, I was able to enter into that exciting, productive zone where creativity finds expression. Emma did more than document the work. She interpreted the genre with a sense of fun. For that and for Emma I am super grateful. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dreams and Imagination: Light in the Modern City


I designed this catalogue Dreams and Imagination: Light in the Modern City to accompany the exhibition of the same name late last year. This was one of those charmed projects from the outset –  a creative joy from start (a coffee date with its writer and exhibition curator Melissa Miles in North Carlton during the last school holidays) to finish (the arrival of hand delivered freshly printed catalogues wrapped in paper and a bow courtesy of the always diligent team at Adams Print). When I break it down, what then constitutes 'creative joy' in a project such as this with several players: a gallery, an independent curator and a printer? It had a team of good listeners with expertise, a sense of confidence, and a healthy perfectionism. It had an adequate timeframe, not overly long, nor too tight. It had a great subject and visual material. And I had autonomy.

The exhibition – documenting modern photography in Australia – straddles the period from the 1930s to the 1970s. Keeping this in mind Melissa and I wanted the design to reflect the time and to keep the emphasis squarely on the photographs. Given that the photographs are all gelatine silver prints we decided on a monochromatic palette with a single steely blue as an accent. That accent appears only in the image credits and on the inside cover, a late addition thanks to Shane from Adams Print who was not certain that the shade of the cover and inside paper stocks would marry well – a good call).

The font is Quadraat, a digital serif font created by Fred Smeijers in 1992. Although it is contemporary in feel it actually draws on pre modern typefaces Garamond (from the 1500s) and Times (late 1700s). I've always liked using Quadraat for body copy for its qualities, legibility and a touch of eccentricity. The headings, credits and footnotes are in Scala, another font designed in the early 1990s. Both Scala and Quadraat were conceived in the Netherlands, a hotbed of typographic innovation. As I'm thinking about it, it strikes me as slightly wondrous that two font families from the other side of the world designed in the same language and within a year of one another would be so right for a historical project from the Antipodes.

Naturally, I am tormented by two or three things I would have done differently (goddammit!) but overall I was happy with the result. Can I say I like it? In fact I am not the only one. A number of people have liked this catalogue. One enthusiast, blogger Peter Costigan, has even posted on it. How nice is that?

Dreams and Imagination: Light in the Modern City 
Closes 1 March 2015
Catalogue costs $25 from the MGA shop.

Monash Gallery of Art
860 Ferntree Gully Road
Wheelers Hill Victoria 3150
Telephone +61 3 8544 0500
T–F 10am–5pm S&S 12–5pm

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Godfather I, II, III

Over the past few years during the Christmas season, specifically the days between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day I've noticed how receptive I am to film. I can't really account for it other than I know in this demanding and volatile emotional period I find myself on the couch with the remote in my hand looking to decompress from the interpersonal intensity of the festive marathon. I'm usually congratulating some nameless individual (the programmer) for their excellent choices. This year, for instance, I fell into a grateful trance watching The Godfather I, II and III over three nights muttering "Genius!" to myself. Is there another series of films more perfect at expressing the wiggy dimensions of family life – its pleasures, obligations and horrors – than this classic trio from America? When I studied Cinema at university in the mid 1990s Francis Ford Coppola was considered a giant who had lost his touch. No one could take the 1970s away from him but, prevailing opinion held that his later films were not as successful. While Martin Scorcese was moving onto Raging Bull and Age of Innocence Coppola was making strange episodes for television and ordinary children's films (The Black Stallion, anyone?). When The Godfather  III was released in 1990 – the only one I saw in the theatres – I remember being disappointed by its flatness. Revisiting it, I was more forgiving. Here is a film preoccupied with regret, legacy and wealth (most likely mirroring Coppola's own life-stage dilemmas) and not the aggressive, energetic turf wars of two decades earlier. I found it closer in theme and texture to Wall Street and Pretty Woman in its reckoning with material excess. Sure, The Godfather III doesn't come close to the inventive and elegiac tone of its predecessors. The straight, steely first instalment with its superb cinematography framing actors on a horizontal or vertical plane and Coppola's use of props; a lighter, a bag of oranges, to intimate psychology or as metaphor – and its ambitious, heartbreaking sequel from 1974. I was in awe of Coppola's nerve watching The Godfather II  especially the set pieces with a cast of thousands, the film's slightly hysterical atmosphere and marvellous casting. Three short years later Coppola would make Apocalypse Now. Like I said, a giant.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas cards

This year I am using an ink pad and four speedball cut out shapes to make cards.