CR Blog http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog News and views on visual communications from the writers of Creative Review Thu, 23 Oct 2014 18:04:15 +0000 http://www.creativereview.co.uk/ en http://www.creativereview.co.uk/layout/img/crlogo_small.gifCR Blog     http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog1616 Designa: technical secrets of the visual arts http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/designa-technical-secrets-of-the-visual-arts http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/designa-technical-secrets-of-the-visual-arts#feedback Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:01:00 +0000 Mark Sinclair http://www.creativereview.co.uk/content.php?page_id=82534

A new sourcebook aims to reveal the secrets behind the many of the patterns and symbols that occur in the traditional visual arts. From Celtic and Islamic designs, to studies of curves, perspective, symmetry and the 'golden section', Designa is a real box of delights...

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A new sourcebook aims to reveal the secrets behind the many of the patterns and symbols that occur in the traditional visual arts. From Celtic and Islamic designs, to studies of curves, perspective, symmetry and the 'golden section', Designa is a real box of delights...

 

The book is actually composed of six previously published editions from Wooden Books, with various appendices included to provide further context. And each chapter – ostensibly one of the six books published between 2007 and 2013 – is at once scientific and philosophical about the process of design. After all, much of the work charted here is centuries old, the product of cultures from all over the world. It's had a lot of time to prove that it works.

 

Designa brings together observations of the natural world and astronomy, optics, geometry and mathematics to show how the visual arts are heavily indebted to science. If your creative practice involves drawing and designing patterns – or incorporating them into your work – then this packed book unlocks the secrets to countless aspects of the artform.

"We harness lines to make our world, to bind language into time, to connect and protect, surround and select," runs a typically enigmatic line from Adam Tetlow's chapter on Celtic Pattern.

In an age where trends speed by from one day to the next, Designa looks at the foundations of pattern, line, shape and symbol that will no doubt be in place for generations to come.

Designa is published by Wooden Books; £14.99. See woodenbooks.com. It is available from Amazon UK, here.

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/wildlife-photographer-of-the-year-2014 http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/wildlife-photographer-of-the-year-2014#feedback Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:50:00 +0000 Antonia Wilson http://www.creativereview.co.uk/content.php?page_id=82487

From cosy geladas to luminous squid, here are some of our highlights from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 winners and shortlisted works...

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From cosy geladas to luminous squid, here are some of our highlights from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 winners and shortlisted works...

Now in it's 50th year, the competition - co-owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide - invites professional and amateur photographers from around the world to submit work into categories including Mammals, Birds, Amphibians and Reptiles, Invertebrates, Plants and Fungi, Underwater Species, Earth's Environments, Black and White, Natural Design, Timelapse, and World in Our Hands.

There are also special awards for Best Single Image, Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year, Rising Star, various age group categories for under-18s, and more. Winners were announced last night at London's Natural History Museum, where the exhibtion will take place from Friday until 30 August 2015 before touring the UK and internationally.

Pictured above: Little squid by Fabien Michenet (France), Underwater Species finalist. Whilst night diving off the coast of Tahiti, Michenet became fascinated by this young sharpear enope squid, measuring just 3cm long, floating motionless 20m deep.

The last great picture by Michael Nichols (USA), Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 winner. Taken in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park, Nichols snapped the five females of the Vumbi pride lying with their cubs calmly sleeping, who were used to his presence after he had been following them for nearly six months.

Photographing them in infrared, "cuts through the dust and haze, transforms the light and turns the moment into something primal, biblical almost," he says.

Transparent care, by Ingo Arndt (Germany), Amphibians and Reptiles finalist. Arndt captured a beam of sunlight shining down thorough a leaf and through the skin of a tiny glass frog guardian a clutch of eggs, in the Piedras Blancas National Park in Costa Rica.

Touché by Jan van der Greef (The Netherlands), Birds Finalist. This image was shot in Ecuador using multiple flashes to freeze the sword-billed hummingbird's wing-beat (more than 60p/s). With its 11cm bill designed to reach nectar at the bas of tube shaped flowers it is the only bird with a bill longer than it's body, excluding tail.

Spider in the frame by Juan Jesus Gonzalez Ahumada (Spain), Black and White Finalist. To isolate this prickly pear leaf skeleton from the surrounding vegetation Ahumada placed a piece of white card behind it, being careful not to disturb the tiny spider hiding in a gap in the framework.

The price to pay by Bruno D'Amicis (Italy), World in Our Hands winner. As part of a long-term project investigating the issues facing endangered species in the Sahara, D'Amicis shot this image of a teenager from a village in southern Tunisia offering (illegally) to sell a three-month-old fennec fox, one of a litter he dug out of their den in the desert.

Communal warmth by Simon Sbaraglia (Italy), Mammals finalist. Just before sunset in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia, Sbaraglia waited at the edge of a cliff for a group of geladas to return after a day's foraging. As they returned it was almost completely dark, but setting his ISO to maximum and using a gentle pulse of flash he caught this great image of the huddled troop.

Apocalypse by Francisco Negroni (Chile), Earth's Environments winner. After the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex began to erupt, Negroni travelled to Puyehue National Park in southern Chile to shoot this volcanic lighting also known as a ‘dirty thunderstorm'. "It was the most incredible thing I have seen in my life," he said.

Feral spirits by Sam Hobson (UK), Birds finalist. Ring-necked parakeets, an Afro-Asian species are now wild in Britain, as a result of escapes and deliberate release of captive birds. Hobson took this picture in London, where the birds thrive, in a cemetery where there were several thousands of birds flying past in constant streams of 20-30. He used a burst of flash at the end of a long exposure to create the shadowy tails.

Delta design by Hans Strand (Sweden), Earth's Environments finalist. Shooting from the air over Iceland, battling motion sickness and the strong winds, Strand captured the delta (landform created at the mouth of a river) of the Fúlakvisl, with the murky river appearing as tangled silvery threads over the black volcanic soil.

www.wildlifephotographeroftheyear.com

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Hans Eijkelboom's People of the 21st Century http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/hans-eijkelbooms-people-of-the-21st-century http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/hans-eijkelbooms-people-of-the-21st-century#feedback Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:32:00 +0000 Eliza Williams http://www.creativereview.co.uk/content.php?page_id=82356

We are used to seeing photos of people who stand out on the street – those who are snapped by fashion mags for having a 'look' all their own. But what about the rest of us? We might just find a place in Hans Eijkelboom's new book, People of the 21st Century...

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We are used to seeing photos of people who stand out on the street – those who are snapped by fashion mags for having a 'look' all their own. But what about the rest of us? We might just find a place in Hans Eijkelboom's new book, People of the 21st Century...

The book, published by Phaidon, chronicles a body of work created over a 22-year period. Each page features an assemblage of shots all taken in an individual place: Eijkelboom sets up camp for a maximum of two hours in an area of a city (usually a busy shopping district) and then picks a 'type' to photograph. The grouping could be made through a particular item of clothing, or object, or by a behaviour – couples walking arm in arm, for example. The day's shots are then organised as a group and dated.

 

The book is fascinating to flick through – in part to see the changing fashions (remember when everyone was wearing lumberjack shirts?) but also in the deeper questions it provokes. Are we all fashion automatons? Do we not have any unique style? When advertising is so often focused on promoting the idea of free expression and individuality, it is somewhat disheartening to see that in actuality, we all end up looking the same.

Eijkelboom describes his work as being rooted in "identity" and states that this project was sparked by a desire to explore his place within a society dominated by commercialism. "When I started the project, I wondered whether I was a product of the consumer society, rather than my own man," he says in a recent interview. "I wanted to make the series almost as a mirror, in which to see myself. If I can see the surrounding society, then I can see what makes me who I am. I think ‘how can you be so naïve to go to a shop, to buy clothes that sum up your personality, and not realise that, at the same time, 10,000 men and women around the world do and think the same things?’ But I do it too, of course. We’re told we’re individuals, and we buy these things, and we are a product of the culture that we live in."

In the introduction to the book, David Carrier argues that beyond the common factor grouping the figures, much diversity is revealed, yet it is difficult not to see Eijkelboom's work as a statement about our conformity and desire to fit in. This is reinforced by the snatched style of the images – Eijkelboom grabs his shots via a remote trigger hidden in his jacket pocket, so the passers-by are oblivious to being photographed. The style sets his work apart from other recent photographic projects such as Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York, which, through the combination of short interviews and carefully shot portraits, serves to highlight the individual rather than the crowd.

Eijkelboom's work draws comparison with Ari Versluis and Ellie Uyttenbroek's Exactitudes project, which also groups people according to their clothing styles, though in a more formal setting. It also falls within a lineage of documentary photography that includes the work of Martin Parr. Yet there is something undeniably contemporary about Eijkelboom's exploration of conformity and individual expression, and also in his demonstration of the fact that we are more conscious than ever that our clothes are vehicles of self-expression. Even if it turns out that lots of other people express themselves in exactly the same way.

People of the 21st Century by Hans Eijkelboom is published by Phaidon, priced £24.95. More info is here.

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The Art of Smallfilms http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/the-art-of-smallfilms http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/the-art-of-smallfilms#feedback Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:43:00 +0000 Mark Sinclair http://www.creativereview.co.uk/content.php?page_id=82340

From the puppets created for Bagpuss and The Clangers, to the paper cut-outs that shaped the world of Noggin the Nog, the archive of Smallfilms has been meticulously detailed in a new publication from Four Corners Books. It's both a celebration of handmade creativity and a tribute to British eccentricity and imagination...

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From the puppets created for Bagpuss and The Clangers, to the paper cut-outs that shaped the world of Noggin the Nog, the archive of Smallfilms has been meticulously detailed in a new publication from Four Corners Books. It's both a celebration of handmade creativity and a tribute to British eccentricity and imagination...

The book has been put together by Jonny Trunk who is, as comedian Stewart Lee suggests in his introduction, something of an archivist of British popular culture. Trunk's methods as a cultural excavator are, Lee says, a perfect fit for a visual history of one of the UK's most cherished creative companies.

 

Eva Herzog's highly detailed photography captures all the figures, puppets, sets and drawings used to create The Clangers, Bagpuss, Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog, plus a selection of Smallfilms' lesser known series, including The Pogles and Pogles' Wood, Tottie: A Doll's House and Pinny's House. Each object is documented, quite rightly, as a piece of art.

Smallfilms was the result of Oliver Postgate's belief that he could make better children's television programmes than those being aired in Britain in the late 1950s.

As a stage manager for ITV he made props for science programmes and sit-coms and, in 1958, after a brief experience of children's television, he wrote a six-episode story entitled Alexander the Mouse, which was then commissioned by the channel.

To make the backgrounds and character design for the programme, Postgate contacted Peter Firmin, a freelance illustrator and lecturer at the Central School of Art in London.

 

After collaborating on an early animation technique whereby characters were moved around on a zinc table via magnets held underneath, the pair worked on carboard constructions which were animated live by levers and sliders positioned behind the card.

Postgate eventually purchased a camera and taught himself to animate, while Firmin, based in Twickenham at this time, began to construct 3D models and puppets. The raw materials were essentially household objects that they had to hand – fabrics, cotton reels, computer tape and foil would be mixed with felt, paper, wire and glue.

When the Firmin family moved to a farmhouse in the village of Blean in Kent in 1959, the outbuidings and barn provided Smallfilms with a workshop studio.

Shortly afterwards the Postgates moved to nearby Whitstable and The Pingwings and the The Pogles (1965-68, spread shown above) became their first animated films to use models (the latter was filmed outdoors, something that Postgate later advised against ever doing again because of the ever-changing light).

 

As a general rule, Trunk writes, Postgate would come up with a series idea and Firmin would produce the sets, models and puppets – which Postage would then film. Firmin's wife Joan was also integral to the process: she made many elements for the programmes, including costumes and clothes and even the knitted Clangers themselves (above).

Soon enough, Smallfilms became something of a cottage industry – albeit a small-scale, highly imaginative one – that went on to produce the children's classics which would make its name in the 1960s and 70s, namely: The Clangers (1969-74), Bagpuss (1974), Ivor the Engine (1958-59 in b/w and 1975-77 in colour, two spreads shown below) and Noggin the Nog (1959-65 in b/w and 1982 in colour).

 

While Firmin (now 85 – and still working) has clearly kept the Smallfilms archive extremely well preserved, credit must go to Trunk and Richard Embray at Four Corners for pursuing the idea of bringing it all together in book form.

Herzog's photography is so good that the experience of looking at the pictures of these well-known characters from yesteryear feels more like quietly studying them in an exhibition.

 

In his introduction, Lee states that a minor danger in enthusing about this kind of work is that fans can appear reactionary; the world in which Postgate and Firmin created these films has long since ceased to exist: "The social circumstances and value systems that shaped those paper and scissors, arts and crafts cowshed visionairies of another era, Firmin and Postgate, are long gone," he writes.

But to see this world preserved in such a beautifully produced book is a real treat. And perhaps something of Postgate and Firmin's method does live on, or has been renewed, in the digital age. Their adherence to salvaging and recycling things, using their hands to turn unassuming objects into a brilliant kind of folk art, still speaks to the modern audience.

The Art of Smallfilms – The Work of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, edited by Jonny Trunk and Richard Embray, is published by Four Corners Books; £25. The book is designed by John Morgan and features photography by Eva Herzog. Art direction by Morgan and Kirsten Hecktermann



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Unquiet films: The Art of Satire http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/unquiet-films-art-of-satire http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/unquiet-films-art-of-satire#feedback Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:34:00 +0000 Rachael Steven http://www.creativereview.co.uk/content.php?page_id=82488

The latest instalment in The Times' Unquiet Films series offers a fascinating look at the work of political cartoonist Peter Brookes.

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The latest instalment in The Times' Unquiet Films series offers a fascinating look at the work of political cartoonist Peter Brookes and the importance of visual satire.

A collaboration between News UK, ad agency Grey London and production company Betsy Works, Unquiet Films is a promotional series exploring "the cultural and historical impact of The Times and The Sunday Times" and the work of the newspapers' journalists, editors, photographers and contributors.

Previous films (which we wrote about here) include one on typeface Times New Roman, another on The Times' use of photojournalism and one on its history of investigative reporting.

The latest, The Art of Satire, was directed by Liz Unna and captures a day in the life of Peter Brookes, political cartoonist at The Times since 1992.

As well as a look at Brookes' working process and the pressures of creating a new cartoon each day, the film features some thought-provoking commentary from fellow Times cartoonist Morten Moreland, broadcaster Jon Snow, Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson, art dealer Chris Beetle and political cartoon expert Tim Benson.

Beautifully illustrated and highly detailed, Brookes' cartoons are created using pencil, ink and watercolour, and works featured in the film range from witty plays on Cameron's Etonian roots and Ed Milliband's resemblance to Wallace & Gromit character Wallace:

To darker, scathing portrayals of Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi.

"He's a wonderful illustrator, who seems to be very good at caricature - capturing the essence of a politican," says Benson.

As Rowson points out, cartoonists are an important part of political dialogue in the UK, enjoying an extraordinary level of freedom compared to other countries. Brookes' cartoons - from light-hearted jokes to what Rowson describes as "character assassinations" - have a lasting effect on the public's impression of the politician featured, and are not just art, but a powerful form of visual journalism.

"Political cartoonists go to the absolute core of the truth," says Snow.  "We'd like to think what they're doing is absurd, ridiculous and very funny but actually, it’s very often a very stark sharp truth."

See more Unquiet Films here.

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Hear from six of the best from The Modern Magazine http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/modern-magazine-interviews http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/modern-magazine-interviews#feedback Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:54:00 +0000 Mark Sinclair http://www.creativereview.co.uk/content.php?page_id=82477

Following on from its Modern Magazine conference last month, magCulture is releasing a video interview with one of six of the main speakers every Wednesday. The second film has just gone live and features Elana Schlenker, the designer behind the ‘pamphlet of typographic smut' – Gratuitous Type...

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Following on from its Modern Magazine conference last month, magCulture is releasing a video interview with one of six of the main speakers every Wednesday. The second film has just gone live and features Elana Schlenker, the designer behind the ‘pamphlet of typographic smut' – Gratuitous Type...

During September's conference magCulture filmed a series of interviews with six of event's speakers and is continuing to post the results over the next few weeks. Last week, Wired Italia's David Moretti discussed what went into launching the magazine – you can see his film below.

Elana Schlenker is the Brooklyn-based graphic designer behind Gratuitous Type and she talks about the founding of the magazine and her plans for the next issue. Schlenker's exhibition, based on the recent fourth issue of Gratuitous Type, is on now at KK Outlet in London.

Over the next four Wednesdays, interviews with the following creative and editorial talent will appear on magCulture: Veronica Ditting, The Gentlewoman; Adam Moss, New York; Kai Brach, Offscreen; Jeremy Langmead, Christies.

Here's the first interview in the series, Wired Italia's creative director David Moretti, interviewed after speaking at the conference in London on 19 September.

The Modern Magazine conference is reviewed in the new issue of CR.

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Why children's charities need a rebrand http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/childrens-charities-rebranding http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/childrens-charities-rebranding#feedback Tue, 21 Oct 2014 16:04:00 +0000 Rachael Steven http://www.creativereview.co.uk/content.php?page_id=82440

Unicef today became the latest children's charity to launch a new brand identity, following NSPCC this week and the Children's Society last month. Here, we look at the differences and similarities in each charity's approach, and why so many organisations in the sector are looking to reinvent themselves...

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Unicef today became the latest children's charity to launch a new brand identity, following NSPCC this week and the Children's Society last month. Here, we look at the differences and similarities in each charity's approach, and why so many organisations in the sector are looking to reinvent themselves...

Unicef's new positioning, devised by johnson banks, is centred around the phrase 'For every child in danger' and aims to better illustrate the reach and scale of the charity's work. In a blog post on the project, creative director Michael Johnson says it was created in response to research which suggested that while people were aware of Unicef, they had little idea what the charity does.

"There was an overall lack of familiarity with the brand ... many don’t even realise that it is a children’s charity. Unicef is actually the world’s largest children’s organisation and already ensures more of the world’s children are fed, vaccinated, educated and protected than any other," he explains.

The new phrase is used alongside hard hitting statistics and urgent calls to action in ads promoting Unicef's efforts to tackle FGM and stop child sex trafficking, and johnson banks says it will help illustrate “the millions of children facing violence, disease, hunger and the chaos of war and disaster”.

The studio has also developed a softer, alternative approach for 'subtler campaigns', centred around the idea of providing safety to every child, and launched safety pins for supporters:

Other changes include a new headline typeface, blue tinted imagery and a much stronger use of Unicef's signature cyan; and johnson banks says the branding will allow the charity to "raise the profile of its work in a clear and consistent way, using a far stronger, more uncompromising and memorable identity than [it] had done before."

The launch of the rebrand, which johnson banks worked on for over a year, follows a major overhaul of NSPCC's visual identity, which was announced on Friday and carried out in-house. The charity's 'full stop' branding has been replaced with a more colourful, approachable identity and a new strapline, 'every childhood is worth fighting for':

The Children's Society also launched a new identity last month, designed by SomeOne, which replaced the organisation's purple logo with a geometric black and white form, inspired by the frontispiece of a book (read our blog post on it here):

While all three identities are very different visually (although use some similar techniques), the reasons for their launch are the same: NSPCC, The Children's Society and Unicef all say their re-positioning aims to tackle a lack of knowledge of the charity's specific aims, policies and achievements.

NSPCC says while its full stop branding raised awareness of child abuse, "people are less clear about the work we're doing to prevent it", while Law told CR there was "no general consensus over what [The Children's Society] stood for or did." Unicef's research revealed a high level of awareness of the Unicef name, but Johnson told us there was a "low level of knowledge" about its specific initiatives or day-to-day work.

Rebrands often come in waves, but it's quite unusual to see three high profile charities within the same sector rebrand in the space of just a few weeks. So is it just a coincidence? Mark Tobin, creative director at NSPCC, says: "charities are always looking to refresh the way they engage with audiences - it's a difficult climate for charities across the board, and I think it's just encumbent on them to look for good ways to reconnect with people," he adds.

Johnson, however, says it's also indicative of their increasing awareness of the need to use the same branding and marketing techniques as successful private sector businesses.

“It’s only in the last few years that charities have really started to grasp the techniques that we have long been honing away from the charity sector – the kind of techniques you might bring over from blue chip clients," he explains. "Of course, with blue chip companies, you don't have to worry about the same emotional resonance or scale of emotions, so [the charity sector] is much more complex - but it's still all about differentiation," he adds.

As Johnson points out, the UK charity market is one of the most competitive in the world, meaning charities are under constant pressure to make their voice heard and differentiate themselves from competing organisations. Key to that is having a strong, clear message and communicating exactly what the charity does and how supporters' money will be spent.

This has long been the case, but in an age of digital fundraising, it's more important than ever. Charities using blogs and social media need to devise campaigns that will create long-running conversations with supporters beyond an immediate call for donations, which many existing identities and and communications toolkits don't offer.

"A direct response or call to action [such as the full stop 'cruelty to children must stop'] can be effective at raising money, but not creating long term strategic partnerships," explains Tobin. "Full stop was incredibly successful at raising awareness of child abuse - but the conversation kind of ended at that point. Now, we want to take supporters on a longer journey, and tell them about the work we're doing, creating a dialogue with them and showing how they can help make a difference [to children]," he adds.

Charities - and children's charities in particular - also have to strike a difficult balance between urging people to donate and drawing attention to extremely complex and unsettling issues, while remaining approachable to vulnerable children and parents who might be seeking support.

Speaking about Save the Children's use of photography in campaigns during the conflict in Gaza this summer, head of visual creative Jessica Crombie told CR that even in campaigns seeking urgent help, charities need to evoke empathy rather than horror.

“We’ve done studies in this and we find that with the really shocking images, people just switch off from them because it’s too much. What actually engages people is emotion," she says.

In the past, children's charity campaigns have generally used either a friendly, reassuring tone of voice - often supported visually by hand writing, warm colour palettes and images of happy, smiling children - or a more hard hitting approach combining stark colours, shocking statements and photos of children in distress.

In their identities for Unicef and The Children's Society, however, johnson banks and SomeOne have developed a toolkit for both kinds of communications. Unicef's ads raising awareness of child sex trafficking, FGM and the dangers children face in Syria use powerful statistics, calls to action and unsettling photographs, while its 'subtler' approach features happier, less shocking imagery (see For Every Bright Future, above).

The Children's Society's hard hitting campaigns feature a similar use of statistics, and bold black and white type, while posters for use in children's centres combine softer imagery, warmer colours and empowering statements.

"Increasingly [with charity comms], we've found you have to have a volume control that can go from loud and urgent to soft and reflective," adds Johnson. "It’s a really tricky one, as the temptation as a communicator is to go for the emotional jugular. That approach looks really impactful on a huge poster, but it doesn’t work so well for a small image on social media."

With NSPCC’s new branding, Tobin says there was a need to move away from this hard hitting approach and talk positively about the solutions the charity offers, rather than just the problems it aims to tackle. The new strapline is considerably more upbeat than the old - with the same sense of inclusiveness as Unicef’s “For Every Child in Danger - and aims to better reflect the charity's wide ranging work, instead of focusing on a single issue.

“The NSPCC supports families struggling with mental health and drug addictions, runs antenatal programmes, and helps mums and children recover from domestic abuse. But many people have no idea that this is the kind of work we carry out. And the people who the NSPCC wanted to help were reluctant to use services from what they perceived to be the ‘cruelty charity’. This is what the new brand addresses,” he says.

NSPCC’s black, white and green colour palette has also been expanded - new ads feature shades of pink, blue and yellow alongside crayon illustrations inspired by children’s imagination. It's certainly more approachable - but is it impactful enough to compel people to donate?

"One of the key things we looked at in development was making sure the branding has the flexibility to create bolder, more urgent campaigns when needed – and we can use the visuals and imagery we' ve created to do that," adds Tobin.

Unsurprisingly, photography is a key focus in each of the new rebrands and is used to powerful effect: johnson banks has used a mixture of original and archive imagery, treated with a blue tint, for Unicef communications, while NSPCC worked with photographer Tom Hull to create a series of images reflecting the range of children and families it supports.

"A lot of our research suggested that people felt child abuse was something that happens to 'other people' - but what we know is that it can affect any family, from any background, so we've used real, credible images of children of various ages and backgrounds. It presents a scenario people might recognise as similar to their own child or children," says Tobin. Most of NSPCC's feature children looking happy, which Tobin says reinforces the idea that every child deserves a childhood, but he says some will be less upbeat.

When selecting imagery for Unicef, Johnson says there was a desire to avoid "generic images of the sector" and adds that the charity will be using more abstract shots and less conventional images in future. "Photography and film is an increasingly powerful way [to get a charity's message across] - but if everyone uses the same images, it loses impact.

"Thirty years ago, after Band Aid, everyone was using very harrowing images of famine, so over the last decade, a lot of charities moved to warm and friendly pictures showing the positive work they've done - it became the new generic if you like. With Unicef, we need to show images of children in danger, but also hint at a sense of safety and security - and it needs to look different [from everyone else's]," he adds.

Like any children's charity, or indeed, any charity, Unicef, NSPCC and The Children's Society face a difficult task when it comes to promoting their work. To command the attention of consumers who are bombared with ads and urges to donate on a daily basis, they need coherent, concise campaigns that are impactful and memorable without being too upsetting, and reassuring without downplaying the issues highlighted.

Today, a memorable logo and a strong call to action is no longer enough: charities have to tell engaging, uplifting stories about how and where donations are spent, all while providing an immediately recognisable message that sets them apart from others in the sector. Raising money has always been tough, but it's near impossible without a strong, flexible identity that extends beyond a call for support.

"Full stop was fantastically effective at rallying support against child cruelty, and with any strong message you have to follow it through, but it perhaps means other messages aren't amplified as loudly," says Tobin. "People understand child abuse is a problem - it's a cause they feel passionately about - so what we need to do now is say, here's what you can help NSPCC do about it."

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Robert Wilson's Helmand photographs brought to UK streets http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/robert-wilsons-helmand-photos http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/robert-wilsons-helmand-photos#feedback Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:45:00 +0000 Antonia Wilson http://www.creativereview.co.uk/content.php?page_id=82437

A photo series by photographer Robert Wilson, documenting the homecoming preparations and final withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, has been displayed on 59 billboards and bus stops in a site-specific exhibition across England and Scotland.

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A photo series by photographer Robert Wilson, documenting the homecoming preparations and final withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, has been displayed on 59 billboards and bus stops in a site-specific exhibition across England and Scotland.

Wilson first visited Afghanistan in 2008, travelling to Helmand to document British forces on the front line, with the resulting images being published as a book (Helmand, Jonathan Cape, 2008). As a commercial photographer, commissioned mainly for editorial and advertising projects, this was a step away from familiar subjects. He then became an official "war artist" after being invited to Afghanistan by the Commander of the forces in Helmand.

Returning to the site in April this year, his aim was to photograph the troops' final tour of duty, and the process of withdrawal from Camp Bastion in Helmand and other camps in Kabul.

After getting to know the troops, Wilson aimed to somehow capture, as he describes it, their "thousand-yard stare" - a certain expression on their "bedraggled" and exhausted faces, having seen images that will never leave them.

The stright on portraits are amongst the strongest in the series. There's something about the look in their eyes, those dusty creases, the sunburn and the freckles - the intensity of these close-up shots tells just a snippet of a much greater story of conflict.

The location of each of the billboards was determined by biographical data gathered from the returning troops, and Wilson hopes this will mean that the outdoor exhibition becomes "both a literal and a metaphorical return home", he says.

The large-scale portraits of the dusty, exhausted faces are stunning (see more from the original series on Wilson's website), and the semi-abstract shots of the aircraft engine and the ammunition are particularly beautiful too.

Wilson aimed to actively engage the public in part through juxtaposing the images with familiar everyday locations, breaking down the sense of a war being 'elsewhere' or happening to 'other people', although some of work better than others. Pairings include an image of the Post Office in Camp Bastion being on display near a local Royal Mail Depot, or a makeshift church image opposite a war memorial in London.

Creating a public exhibition is surely a great way to bring the work to a wider audience and to communities who might share the effects of the troops' homecoming. But is there something about the fact that they are appearing on billboards and bus stops as stand alone images without written explanation (and only a QR code in the corner), that could lead to a misreading of them as big and bold army recruitment ads? Perhaps that doesn't matter if they still serve as a reminder of the conflict, and act as a temporary site of remembrance for communities locally.

Although the public exhibition lasted only a couple of weeks, and has now officially ended, some of the billboards are yet to be rebooked so keep an eye out for the images around the country, (click here for the full list of locations). A gallery show of the photographs is also on until November 30 at Gallery One and A Half, London.

 

www.helmandreturn.com

 

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Rodney Fitch: a tribute http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/rodney-fitch http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/rodney-fitch#feedback Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:29:00 +0000 Richard Williams http://www.creativereview.co.uk/content.php?page_id=82438

"I always felt that I had a mission in life to deliver to ordinary people better places to shop". Rodney Fitch, one of the true greats of British design, has passed away. As a tribute we are republishing this 1996 interview by Richard Williams from our sister title Design Week which caught Fitch at his charming best

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"I always felt that I had a mission in life to deliver to ordinary people better places to shop". Rodney Fitch, one of the true greats of British design, has passed away. As a tribute we are republishing this 1996 interview by Richard Williams from our sister title Design Week which caught Fitch at his charming best

Williams interviewed Fitch for a series of articles on the "founding fathers" of the British design industry. At the time, Fitch had recently bounced back from a traumatic break with his original consultancy, to form Rodney Fitch & Company with Richard Branson’s backing.

 

 

Half Moon Street is a pretty street in London's Mayfair where you would expect to find firms of conveyancing solicitors or chartered accountants. Surprisingly, it has offered sanctuary to someone who radically changed the way we shop and whose touch brightened every high street in the UK during the Eighties, namely Rodney Fitch.

Fitch is absolutely captivating, with the skills of a great raconteur and a very open sensitivity. His is an epic story with all the ingredients of a best-seller - with his extraordinary highs and lows, powerful friendships which ran aground irretrievably and an incredible personal inner strength.

The new office is part of a portfolio of properties owned by Richard Branson, equal shareholder in the new Rodney Fitch and Company. A far cry from the huge monument to success that was the centre of the Fitch empire in King's Cross, it is somewhere to rebuild confidence and start the long climb back.

The link to Branson means that Fitch now has the opportunity to pitch on all Virgin business, although it is not a foregone conclusion that he will win it, as the loss of the Virgin cinema projects to Design Clinic and Watson Design proves.

Fitch explains: "My departure from Fitch plc was horrible, and it was done in such a way that it questioned my self-worth. My personal regard for myself had been systematically destroyed and Richard, by expressing the confidence in me that he did, helped restore that self-respect. He owns 50 per cent of this business and we plan to make it as big and successful as we possibly can. I want to make it as big, if not bigger, than Fitch. This is not a desire for revenge, just that the opportunity is there to be taken advantage of."

Born in Islington in 1938, an only child of working class parents, his education was "unspectacular". After technical college he joined a shopfitting company in its design studio, but soon realised that he did not want to work for traditional shopfitters, instead he wanted to work for a small, creative and elite design and architecture group.

"My life was changed by the work of Bronek, Katz and Meir. My Holy Grail was the Richard Shops store the group designed at London's Marble Arch, with its huge sheets of glass pinned to metal frames. It blew shopfitting completely out of the water. To me this company was doing absolutely state-of-the-art stuff. I was just knocked out by it all."

He had strong left-wing political views in those days and his involvement with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament almost lost him his first big break. Offered a job as a junior designer with Conran Design Group, the start date was immediately after a CND rally in Ruislip..."Of course, I got arrested. I was bundled off to Ashford Remand Centre where I refused to co-operate. Eventually, I was duped into giving my details and my mother contacted Terence Conran to explain why I hadn't turned up for work! He paid my 50 fine and I was released. I always felt indebted to Terence for this display of generosity. It was 1963 when I embarked on several very happy, enjoyable and creative years at the Conran Design Group, ending up as managing director there in 1968."

On Conran's departure from CDG, he approached Fitch to join him at the new Conran Associates, but Rodney decided instead to buy the former CDG from Burtons. He renamed it Fitch & Company and was on his way.

"I decided there had to be a change in my life," explains Fitch. This episode marked the well-publicised falling out between the once very close partners. "I knew that I owed Terence not just that crucial 50, but all I had learned from him. When the chips were down and he was starting again he needed me and I wasn't there. I lived with that guilt for years." He feels that his recent acrimonious departure from Fitch at the hands of Conran and others has levelled the score.

Conran, Jean François Bentz and Martin Beck began the financial restructuring of Fitch plc and Rodney realised that he no longer had a place in the business. The parting was sad and acrimonious and there are details he will not divulge. His resentment at his treatment is very clear. The concept of this proud man pushing his bicycle away from the company he loved without even being allowed to pump up the front tyre beggars belief.

"On a personal level, being a public company had very substantial benefits. On paper, it gave an economic value to my life. To be chairman of a public company, which had to be properly run, managed and be accountable to its shareholders, was how I wanted to be judged. It also gave design a legitimacy in a business, capitalist society context," he explains.

Rodney's politics and personal fortune took a huge upturn in the Eighties. He was quoted as being worth 40m and one of Britain's 250 richest people. "Growth was spectacular. Margaret Thatcher engendered a spirit in the country which enabled all sorts of things, good and bad, to grow. I don't regret the Eighties at all. I think that design came of age. The decline started when we continued to invest in the building in King's Cross. We should have put a great big tarpaulin over it and stayed where we were until we could get a clearer picture of the depth of the recession. Had I done that I would not be here now and things would be very different.

"Today they want me to be a designer in a garret - small-time, charge small fees, don't raise my head above the parapet, don't be flash, because it is not seemly for designers to do that. Designers are modest professionals who should enjoy a modest income and be content with their lot. I hate all that.

"I always felt that I had a mission in life to deliver to ordinary people better places to shop. I have little interest in Issey Miyake or haute couture design. The thing that really turns me on is working for Woolworth's, Marks and Spencer and Boots stores - which touch everyone's life." This is indeed a noble calling.

He thinks the new company has kept him young. "It is a new kind of business - low cost, high technology, high productivity. Virtually everything I do I think of as a brand problem from the inside outwards. It is not enough to simply produce a new design formula without a concomitant commitment to the product."

He has a joint operation called FMF in the US with a small and very lively modernist architectural practice, FM Associates, whose specialism is retail masterplanning. It designs the kind of huge shopping malls which Rodney has admired for so long. Indeed, it is about to design the biggest mall ever built in the world, some five million square feet - about ten times the size of Brent Cross. Rodney Fitch and Company will design some of the stores within it, create the brand positioning and design its identity.

The project, like much of Fitch's activity nowadays, will be built in Asia, a region he adores. He operates in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila, and is treated with the respect he feels he deserves. "Often the top people in business there already have my books on their shelves. They respect me and listen to me because of my status in the business." He regrets that he does a pathetically small amount of work in the UK, hating the current perception "that unless you have green hair you are not a very good designer. If you were around in the Eighties you are somehow sullied or old hat. You don't get that in Asia. There one is always dealing with the owner, whereas here one is always much lower down the chain".

He is hugely optimistic about the future of design, if a trifle jaded at the return to poor fees in the UK. He foresees designers being much more "plugged in" to their clients, "becoming a sixth finger of their right hand, where clients come to rely on their consultants utterly".

Rodney Fitch is living proof that you can't keep a good man down. He is enjoying his new career and I reckon that Britain's loss is Asia's gain. Watch this space.


Richard Williams is founder and chairman of Williams Murray Hamm

 


 


Rodney Fitch died on 20 October following a battle with cancer. Most recently, he held a post as a Professor of retail design at TUDelft University in the Netherlands and ran consultancy Rodney Fitch Ltd.

Tim Greenhalgh, chairman and chief creative officer of Fitch, paid tribute to the consultancy's founder: “Rodney was a truly great man and one whom we in the design community owe a great debt of gratitude. He was a creative visionary and one of the most charming men you could ever wish to meet. He created a culture for designers that has survived over the years  – one that celebrates endeavour and the desire to change the world for the better.

“Rodney believed strongly in customer-centric design (a term he never liked using) and hated customers being referred to as ‘punters’. He believed they deserved great respect, and importantly, great design. He saw things in the world of brand and retail that others simply missed and he had ways of expressing his ideas that people fell in love with.

“Rodney was a wonderful man, who was loved and will be greatly missed.”

D&AD, where Fitch served as President in 1984, has a lovely interview from 2011 here

Please use the comments space below to share your memories of Fitch. Tributes can also be left here

 

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Ten years of button badges http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/stereohype-2004-14 http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/october/stereohype-2004-14#feedback Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:52:00 +0000 Rachael Steven http://www.creativereview.co.uk/content.php?page_id=82361

Ten years ago this month, London t-shirt and badge label Stereohype launched its first annual button badge design competition. With an exhibition of over 1000 submissions on display at LCC and a new monograph on the project just published, we asked co-founder Tomi Vollauschek about visual trends in badge design, and whether it's still a popular medium for graphic artists.

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Ten years ago this month, London t-shirt and badge label Stereohype launched its first annual button badge design competition. With an exhibition of over 1000 submissions on display at LCC and a new monograph on the project just published, we asked co-founder Tomi Vollauschek about visual trends in badge design, and whether it's still a popular medium for graphic artists.

Stereohype was founded as an experimental offshoot of Vollauschek and Agathe Jacquillat’s London design studio FL@33 in 2004, and sells t-shirts and badges designed by new and established artists. Each year, it runs an online badge design competition, judged by an industry panel, with winning contributions sold via the label’s website.

Vollauschek and Jacquillat also add their own designs to the site, as well as an annual 'By Invitation Only' series. Over 1000 designs are now featured in an exhibition at London College of Communication - one of three shows launched at the college during London Design Festival (see our blog post on them here) - and a monograph, Stereohype: 2004-2014.



As an introduction to the monograph notes, badges have been a popular medium of expression since the invention of celluloid in the late 1890s. Over the years, they have been used to communicate political ideologies, promote good causes and display allegiances to bands, brands or clubs and as they are easy and cheap to produce, have long been popular with designers, artists and illustrators.

Stereohype's exhibition at LCC

“It’s a fantastic medium” adds Vollauschek. “We call them mobile mini canvases but really, they have more in common with a poster design or stamp than a painting. The core message for example – if there is one to communicate – must be delivered directly and appropriately. As fashion accessories they are of course amazing, too, as you can playfully add and change them according to mood and occasion,” he says.

Button badges aren't quite as popular today as they were in the 1970s and 80s, during the height of the DIY punk aesthetic, but they're still sold at major galleries, from the Tate to the Wellcome Collection, and Stereohype continues to receive hundreds of submissions to its competition each year.

“Fashions come and go, of course, and demand has had its ups and downs, but one thing we learned about selling badges over a period of ten years is that people never seem to grow tired of button badges, and happily reward themselves, friends and family with these cute little wearable artworks,” he says.

The label's all-time most popular designs, however - Richard J Kirk’s Sorry I’m Late; FL@33’s VIP and Shen Plum’s Coloured Mesh (below) - are from one of its earliest series.

While designs vary enormously each year, Vollauschek says there are some recurring motifs: “Eyes, buttons and of course skulls never go out of fashion. Cats and dogs are very popular, so are references to tea and/or coffee drinking – no surprise then, that Monika Mitkute’s badge of a cat holding a mug (below) is one of our best sellers," he says.
“Overall, a trend towards the extra-silly and rougher doodle like designs seems to be increasingly popular, and comfortably stands its ground next to slicker visual executions and more minimal, conceptual designs."

One of Vollauschek's favourite designs is Jody Barton's I Hate Dolphins - "I am still fascinated by it, as it offends pretty much everybody," he adds.

For this year’s B.I.O. series, Stereohype invited Caetano Calomino, Dina Silanteva, Emmi Salonen, Henrik Birkvig, Julian Morey, Matthew Kenyon, Neringa Plange, Paul Jenkins, Russell Weekes, Sawdust, Studio Gpop, Tara Hanrahan and Tower Block Books aka Amandine Alessandra and Rute Nieto Ferreira to submit badges (you can see the full set here).

Badge designs by Tower Block Books, Matthew Kenyon, Paul Jenkins, Sawdust, Russell Weekes Caeteno Calomino and Studio Gpop for Stereohype's B.I.O. 14 series

The label also commissioned ten creatives to design a badge and poster to celebrate its anniversary, inspired by the number 10 and/or 1000, or 10x10. The collection includes designs by Daniel Eatock, Deanne Cheuk, Jacquillat, Genevieve Gauckler, Ian Wright, Michael C Place, Richard J Kirk, TwoPoints and Vaughan Oliver. A1 prints are available in editions of 10, priced at £350 each.

Designs by Alan Kitching, Vaughan Oliver, Deanne Cheuk, Ian Wright and TwoPoints (see here for the full set)

While larger runs of its badges are manufactured abroad, Stereohype still produces limited editions in-house, using the same machine it set up shop with. This year, its annual competition is open to visitors to the exhibition, who are invited to submit hand-drawn designs manually via a ballot box, but next year's will again be held online, and Stereohype is launching a new website later this year to better showcase its collection. “The anniversary show certainly encouraged us to continue extending our collection,” adds Vollauschek.

Stereohype 2004-2014 is on display at LCC until October 31. The monograph is priced at £10. For details, see stereohype.com.

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