More from Prof Craig Ward's type lab
Readers will (we hope) remember Craig Ward's cover for our Annual this year in which type was grown using pollen cells. For his next trick, Ward has created the number 30 using highly magnetic ferrofluid
Ward was asked by Discover magazine to produce something for its 30th anniversary issue. As with our Annual cover (shown above), he decided to work on it with University of Denver immunologist Frank Conrad. "We offered the magazine two routes; one involving lasers, the other a kind of magnetic ink called ferrofluid which I had only seen a few times," Ward says. "Frank was confident that we could either buy some or make our own."
Ferrofluids feature tiny suspended particles that will react to magnets, as illustrated in this beautiful video from Sachiko Kodama and Yasushi Miyajima:
To create his 30, Ward set the figure in Trade Gothic Condensed which was then routed out of various thicknesses of wood and plastic. (Pics: Sam Ley)
The idea, Ward says, "was that we would place the routed out 30 between a magnet and a tray of ferrofluid so only the areas of fluid exposed to the magnetic field would react – creating a kind of fluid stencil. The way the ink reacts to the magnet depends on the polarity, one way attracts it, the other repels, pushing it upward in spikes."
Here's the final image with details (shot by Nicholas Eveleigh):
"Whilst this may look like an expensive CGI render from one of the Terminator films, all of this was captured in camera with a clever use of lights and reflective surfaces making the best use of the reflective nature of the liquid," Ward says. "The oily nature of our mix is what has given the numbers their rainbow-like halo."
When we posted about Ward's Annual cover, some commenters questioned whether it wouldn't have been better to have done the whole thing in 3D software. Apart from ruling out the kind of happy accidents that can occur when you are experimenting with physical substances, what such an approach also rules out is the possibility of extending the 'story' of the work via making-of imagery such as is shown here. Certainly, as far as CR is concerned, this is always a factor when we are thinking about commissioning covers for the magazine. We want a great cover, but having a great story behind the making of the cover is even better.
And it looks like more fun too!
Plus 3D renders are soulless. And I've only seen 2 in my life that couldn't be detected as virtual on close inspection.
Saw something similar to this at the Brighton City College Foundation show, only a lot simpler. Can't remember the artist's name though...
Fantastic Ferrofluids video, Gracias.
I just don't see the point...
Really exciting work. Craig Ward’s cover for our Annual was very innovative and thoughtful, as is this new piece. I’d not heard ofFerrofluids nor seen the video of Sachiko Kodama and Yasushi Miyajima before so thanks for pointing that out.
I'm rather inclined to agree...Ward is a bit of a one trick pony. It just about works in this case, but normally his experiments are utterly pointless and just cover up a lack of actual ideas or good execution.
I really like this.
Working with tangible materials rather than relying on CGI is something that should be creditted.
Experimentation can give fantastic and unexpected results!
Nevermind Ward being a one trick pony, this is the work of a lame pony.
The '30' image doesn't have the intensity and the beauty of the Kodama & Miyajima piece.
Once again, this is a perfect example of an advertising creative/designer ripping off ideas from the fine art world.
Thanks CR for including the 'Morpho Towers' film.
Anything can be made ‘pointless’ by simply viewing it from positions that determine rather than enquire.
...Once again, this is a perfect example of fines artists ripping off ideas from the science world...
...Once again, this is a perfect example of scientists ripping off ideas from the world of printers...
...Once again, this is a perfect example of printers ripping off ideas from the graphic design world...
...Once again, this is a perfect example of Once again...
Ferrofluid is amazing stuff, I used it a couple of years ago for a project, gets very messy very quickly! Really difficult to photograph too due to its reflective qualities, found it was very hard to create pre determined shapes, so this work by Craig is awesome, here are my attempts: http://www.eveningtweed.com/old/tom/ferro/
And what 'one trick' is that exactly? Doing interesting and innovative things with type? As a typographer, that would seem to be a pretty good trick to have.
I don't see how he has 'ripped off' anything. It's a material - different people are exploring ways in which to use it creatively. Just because someone makes a film using it, that doesn't mean it is off limits for everyone else.
Perhaps Ward has reached what we might term the 'hating point' - that point at which a designer or imagemaker reaches a certain stage of acclaim/renown which then triggers the inevitable backlash from his/her peers
Wow, the final image looks amazing!! Really want to try this out one day!!
Thanks for sharing.
Yes, perhaps I was a bit hasty in calling Ward a 'lame pony', especially as I've genuinely NEVER heard of him before!!!!
However, I have heard of the artist Sachiko Kodama who exhibited at the Armory Show in NY this year and Ferrofluids have underpinned a lot of her work for the past 10 years or so. Thank you for including her film in this article.
I certainly don't think that a few dissenting voices should warrant the Headmaster wading in. Good blogs should allow for different points of view and the CR blog is a good blog.
It would be very dull if everyone just commented on how awesome the work is.
Patrick, well in there!
You cannot beat good old fashioned experimentation and exploring new materials. Take me back to my first photogram days!
This is a great post!
Why, oh why, oh why.
Right that's it, I'm just off to create a number two.
The video is stunning unfortunately the type looks mundane by comparison. Still perhaps as you say the story is more important here.
I cant believe people are so negative on these blogs. It is a beautiful piece of work. typography is such a traditional medium and this creating 3 dimetional type from innovative materials to create unexpected results in experimenting.
I would say that nothing is 'ripped off' everything inspires you in one way or another to create your own work. I also find that everyone is very quick to have an opinion about everything and anything but Id like to see them do better.
Just a thought.
No wonder CR costs so much! How much did you pay for that 'A'?
The one trick being- 'Look how clever I am, I can make letters out of lots of things. It doesn't matter if it doesn't communicate effectively or add to the meaning being communicated, because I am being 'experimental'.
Some of Ward's stuff does work, but alot of it is, to someone who is obsessive about type and how it works, not really typography.
If you think this is lame, show us your work.
Typography [taɪˈpɒgrəfɪ]: noun
1. The design, theory, and art of creating characters for printing
It's big and it's clever, yet another amazing concept. Props Mr. Ward!
PS: I only wonder why it's people with no website links who moan the most.
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Genuinely lovely. Genuinely interesting. And most importantly, genuine.
Can't say fairer than that.
p.s. The rip-off claims make me laugh. Seems like a lot of effort to go to for such a lazy plagiarist.
I don't think anyone expects all the comments to be positive, that would be a boring blog, as you point out Ben. However, ruthlessly cutting comments from people who can't even put more than a first name without a link, or worse, just a letter as their name is pathetic.
And considering that the magazine that commissioned the work is a 'science and technology' mag, I guess they would be pretty disappointed if he, say, drew the numbers. So I think 'one trick pony' is a little harsh. And the final results of the experiment are pretty incredible visually anyway.
This debasing of Craig reminds me of the time Santa was caught whipping a Care Bear for being too loving. Futile, anti-guild and impossible! Now bear this in mind @B & @Ben. Open a browser, read 10 design blogs, try not run into talented peer admiration for Craig. He nurtures collaborations and always tries to push himself into an unknown area of expertise with each new project. For that I commend him. For your un-Santa words, baseless poppy cock.
i actually did NOT like the A, did not look as exciting as the process BUT the 30 !!!!!
Looks great. But a whore like trade gothic condensed being used with such an artistic piece of technology is a shame.
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