Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

05 AUGUST, 2011

Typography in 7 Minutes: A PBS Micro-Documentary

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Visibility, invisibility, and what the spirit of letters has to do with the meaning of text.

On Monday, we featured 10 essential books on typography. Today, we turn to this fantastic short documentary on, you guessed it, typography from the excellent Off Book series by PBS Arts. In just 7 minutes, the film explores type — ubiquitous yet often unnoticed and misunderstood — through the work of some of today’s most iconic type designers and freshest voices, from Brain Pickings favorite Paula Scher to our friends at Hyperakt, masters of the infographic form, as well as legendary duo Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones, and Pentagram prodigy Eddie Opara.

Words have meaning and type has spirit, and the combination is spectacular.” ~ Paula Scher

From the selection and sometimes bespoke creation of fitting typefaces for every print publication, website, movie, ad and public message, to how computers have liberated and democratized typography, to the design decisions behind creating compelling infographics, the microdocumentary offers a succinct case for the power of typography as a communication medium and a storytelling device.

The most challenging part of working on an infographic is taking all the available data and deciding what is the most important bit of information that we need to communicate. Infographics are about typography getting out of the way of the message.” ~ Deroy Peraza

I determine how I design something based on the audience and what the audience would bear. Evoke the response you want while pushing the audience to see something perhaps in a new way.” ~ Paula Scher

For more, feast your type-loving heart on these 10 timeless books about typography.

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04 AUGUST, 2011

Seasons: A Meditation on Change by French Illustrator Blexbolex

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What spring fever has to do with stillness, surprise and the charisma of a passion project.

French artist Blexbolex has charmed the world with his playful cartoons and illustrations, to which he brings his wonderfully eclectic creative background — classically trained as a screen-printer in 1980s France, inspired by the whodunits of the 1950s and 60s, and having directed a German art studio in the 1990s, he blends elements of cartoons, graphic novels and soft watercolor painting into simple yet endlessly whimsical artwork.

In Seasons, he contemplates the fluctuations of seasonality with his signature retro-inspired minimalism. Four spreads depict the same landscape during each season, with a single word or phrase in bold block-letters on each page. But don’t breeze by the seeming simplicity of the concept — many of the thoughtful pairings on the beautiful double-page spreads give you pause and make you wonder why and how the two words go together, gently nudging you towards a philosophical meditation on the seasons, change and impermanence.

From the rich, textured colors to the creamy matte paper to the tactile fabric on the book’s spine, Seasons is a trifecta treat for the eyes, fingers and soul.

Image courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

Image courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

Image courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

Image courtesy of Enchanted Lion Press

Image courtesy of Enchanted Lion Press

Image courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

Image courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

Image courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

Seasons comes from Enchanted Lion Books — an utterly charming, as-indie-as-they-come, family-owned independent publisher of (mostly) children’s books, located right up the street from my studio in Brooklyn. It’s such heart-warming joy to see good people doing wonderful work, driven by nothing more than genuine passion for what they do — if every neighborhood could have more of that, the world would be a better place.

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03 AUGUST, 2011

Life of Pi: Croatian Illustrator Takes on a Modern Classic

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What perseverance in the face of rejection has to do with tigers and the quest for belonging.

It’s a familiar story — author faces series of rejection letters but perseveres to eventually reach wide critical acclaim. That’s exactly what happened to Yann Martel, whose fantasy adventure novel Life of Pi was rejected by at least five UK publishers before being published by a Canadian one in 2001 and awarded the Man Booker Prize for Fiction the following year for its UK edition. It tells the story of an Indian boy, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, stranded for 227 days after a shipwreck on a boat he shares with a Bengali tiger named Pi. It’s a story of faith, adventure, survival and belonging.

But what makes the book most noteworthy is that, in 2005, a worldwide competition set out to find an artist to illustrate a new, special edition of the book, settling on the wonderful Croatian illustrator and painter Tomislav Torjanac. Torjanac used his distinctive blend of oil paints and digital illustration to produce 40 stunning illustrations with a conceptual twist — the scenes he portrayed were viewed from Pi’s subjective perspective.

My vision of the illustrated edition of Life of Pi is based on paintings from a first person’s perspective — Pi’s perspective. The interpretation of what Pi sees is intermeshed with what he feels and it is shown through the use of colours, perspective, symbols, hand gestures, etc… Hence some of the scenes may look realistic and may correspond to ‘reality,’ while others may contain elements of sylization or even abstract elements (for example: the scene of blindness out of the sea).” ~ Tomislav Torjanac

Here is a fascinating glimpse of Torjanac’s creative process:

Island Study

Lifeboat Study

'I quite deliberately dressed wild animals in tame costumes of my imagination.'

'Only when they threw me overboard did I begin to have doubts...'

'And what a thump it was.'

'I threw the mako towards the stern.'

Breathtakingly beautiful, exhilarating and poetic, the artwork in Life of Pi is an absolute feast for the eyes and heart.

Some images via The Guardian

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