- PRETTY PICTURES
- THINGS TO BUY
- ABOUT ME
This design for Maharam fabrics is based on the cipher I designed for part of my book, I Wonder. As a cipher, it says something. It's a letter to a friend, and I liked the idea of people unknowingly sitting on a secret communication. I think it would be very, very difficult to decode this message.
It comes in seven colours very similar to my otherfabric Centric, but these are my favourite three:
Available from Maharam.
This is an interesting project. And an odd one. I, along with 5 other designers/studios was approached by Adobe to "hack" an Eames chair, while being filmed in a 48-hour time limit, to promote their creative cloud suite of tools. I told them I wasn't using CC yet, and that if I did this, I couldn't imagine doing it digitally, using Adobe software, but that I would do something by hand. They were fine with both of those things, so I agreed. A few weeks later, a videographer, Rory, and his assistant Dabne arrived at my door with this chair (in a box).
It was so beautiful, as you can see, that I was lothe to do anything at all to it. I had a couple of ideas, one of which was drilling holes in it (which I'm glad I rejected, because that's what someone else did), but the one I settled on was to cover it in strips of wood veneer that I had kicking around. I was really nervous because I had no idea if it was going to work.
It was super fun having Rory and Dabne around, and they followed me to the store to buy the right kind of glue, and they took lots of shots of my house and my dog.
I chose a contact cement which worked really well for gluing wood to plastic but it was basically a one shot deal - once it was glued it was glued, there was no going back.
I used tracing paper right on the chair to figure out the curved shapes.
As the chair progressed I realized I liked the combinaton of plastic and wood and decided not to cover it completely. Plus, I was running out of time.
On the 2nd day an editor showed up and she would start processing the footage after Rory shot them. They were on a crazy tight deadline as well. I was working from a Friday at noon to a Sunday noon, and they had to get a cut in to Adobe on the Monday.
On Saturday night I was finished most of the veneer but had to fill the cracks and sand it, which made a terrible mess and had me really worried.
It cleaned up fine for the final shots on Sunday, although technically it's not finished as it needs a couple of coats of varnish. What I really like was how an unintentional Tiki figure came out. So I call this the Tiki Chair.
So that was 3 people hired on a super tight schedule to fly up from San Francisco to do the filming over 48 hours; they got hours worth of footage which was supposed to be edited down to about 5 minutes. But in the end Adobe put all 6 designers together in one mashup video of 2.5 minutes. It can be seen on YouTube, here.
And I got a great chair!
I had a show of work at the Chicago Design Museum (ChiDM) in June, and Tanner Woodford, who runs the museum, asked me if I wanted to do an installation piece with some flowers (they had a flower store connection willing to donate flowers). So I said sure!
I didn't put any advance thought into it because I wasn't sure what kind of flowers I was going to get, but the day before he opening of the show, I was taken to the flower store and picked out some things that looks like they'd hold up reasonably well, and some others that wouldn't (like roses). had been thinking fo just doing a pattern, but thinking about how the piece would be on display for a few weeks and would, of course die, I decided to make the word "Sorrow".
I arrived at the space at 2pm and just started laying things out. I was basically making it up as I went along.
I had brought a good camera with me, but no tripod, and the light went really quickly. I didn't have much time for photos, so the photos I took were pretty bad.
I finished at around 9 or 9:30 pm. So I worked for 7 hours straight. The opening party started at 5 or 6, so I was still making with people coming around to watch.
Above was just after it was finished. Tanner sent me the shot below, after a few weeks. When he took it down, he put the dried petals and leaves into jars and sent one to me and some to other people as well, which was nice.
For the theme "experiment" I had this idea to create a pseudo-scientific, faux-electronic, erzast-frankenstein kind of setup, with a bunch of stuff I had lying around. I got partway through the project, with no planned end in sight when I looked at my desk and the experimental materials on it and realized - that's it!
The final delivery was a collection of some of these images.
I had it in my head I wanted to make a heart of gold. But then I decided I wanted to do something different with foil - which is usually so static - an give it motion. An active heart, a spinning heart.
Here's the die for the foil:
To me, a muse is an elusive thing. One is lucky to have one, and finding one is difficult, sometimes with false stops along the way. I envisioned the way to finding the muse as a maze, where sometimes you find small spots of enlightenment, but it's not until you find your way to a true muse that your world and creativity opens up into full freedom and colour.
Todd Falkowsky asked me to create a surface design for a Blu Dot chair as part of a charity auction. I decided to start a new series for this, with the text of movie descriptions.
This double-page illustration was for the "taste" issue of Varoom. For it, I imagined a menu of unusual things.
I was asked to take part in a project creating carpets to be made by a fair-trade company in Nepal. For some reason I got it into my head that I wanted a sentient carpet - it says "I, carpet": what does it feel when you walk on it? I built the structure of the carpet around these words, and designed patterns of mice, birds, cats & dogs for the spaces formed by the structure.
Then I discovered they didn't want words in the carpets.So, despite a lovely test done, this was never made. Maybe one day.
A two-page spread on the topic of "Entertainment." I created a custom circular type for this.
When I was asked to speak at AGIdeas in Australia, I was also asked to design a special give-away piece for the printers Gunn & Taylor. I designed a notebook with a geometric pattern for an embossed cover, with bits of gold, silver, red and blue foil placed in some of the shapes.
Inside, instead of using lines or a regular grid, I printed different shape-grids on each of the pages, curious as to how it would affect that way people take notes, draw, or think.
I was asked to choose a number between 1 and 65 to illustrate for a book celebrating the TDC's 65th year. I chose the number 11.
Because I travel a lot, I decided to use old postcards for my Valentines this year. I sent about 480, and the cards range over about 90 years: from 1901 to the late '80s, I think. They are from all over the world and they went all over the world. About 100 of them had writing on the back and had been posted before.
Then, they're all overprinted in silver with my image, which says "From me wherever I am / To you wherever you are."
This is my most recent piece for Varoom Magazine, on the topic of localism. It's a bit post-apocalyptic.
Maybe one day we will all be local
in our small communities structured for survival
we will hew things out of wood
and farm our plots of land for seasonal food.
Our neighbours will be potters, metal smiths,
bakers, weavers and stonemasons.
We'll have a primitive doctor
and a sadistic dentist.
The weather will be our enemy and our saviour,
gracing us with water
or withholding it for too long.
We will be surrounded by the warmth of animals
using them for everything they have to
give us while strugglingto keep them alive.
We'll know each other well and gather
under summer stars and around winter fires
to tell stories of the past.
We'll assist in births and deaths.
We'll worry mostly about food.
We'll draw pictures of each other on skins
and in stone and wood.
Now and then a stranger will come.
Sometime this summer Hemlock Printers contacted me to design their annual set of wrapping paper. I agreed provided they give me carte blanche over the design and they decided to trust me. I wanted to create something that was festive, but completely non-denominational, and not even "Seasonal". So no snowflakes, or Santa, or bells etc., and no red, green or gold. So I decided on a very bright yellow as my dominant colour, with silver.
I had a number of ideas for the theme of each wrapping paper, but I decided on doing something with kittens, trucks and big machinery, cake decorations, and flames. I figured that would cover a wide range of tastes and sensibilities.
They have a standard die of the container/box it comes in, and I designed that too. In the spirit of a surprise gift, there's very little indication on the outside of what's inside. It's very simple, plain white with four symbols on the front.
When you open it up, yellow, silver and black flames come from the sides, while the top and bottom flaps have perforated tags: again something to suit everyone.
Open it further and the whole thing is on fire on the inside, revealing the first of the wrapping paper sheets.
The box contains 2 sheets each of all four wrapping designs:
I've made a separate post for each of the designs so you can see them in more detail here:
Hemlock sent about 2700 of these out to their friends and clients across North America. If you're on their mailing list, I hope you enjoyed this year's wrapping papers. I had a lot of fun making them. Oh, and the good folks at Hemlock tell me they've received an overwhelming positive response!
This is the first of the wrapping papers I did for Hemlock Printers in Vancouver. It might be my favourite. I certainly had fun making it (beginning with ordering a mass of exciting cake decorations). As usual, the cake decorations are not photoshopped, nor are they glued: I placed them in place, shot them and moved on to the next.
Printed in CMYK with a flourescent yellow background with spot varnish.
And the full sheet:
This is the second of the wrapping papers I did for Hemlock Printers in Vancouver. It's a toss-up whether this or "Cake Decorations" is my favourite. It's called "Fire", and it's printed in CMYK and flourescent yellow.
The full sheet:
This is the third of the wrapping papers I made for Hemlock Printers in Vancouver. It's printed in flourescent yellow and black.
And the whole sheet:
This is the fourth of the wrapping papers I designed for Hemlock Printers in Vancouver. I've been wanting to do something with kittens for a long time (this uses stock photography from Shutterstock), so this was my chance: Kittens! Who doesn't love kittens? Printed CMYK with silver background and spot gloss.
The folded sheet as they first see it, above.
Some of the kitten twirls, below:
And the full sheet:
After doing a poster for one of my favourite bands, The National, last year, I was happy to be asked once again to do another one for them. This time they were playing in my home town of Vancouver at the Orpheum. The 3-light-condition design of the first poster was hard to beat, but I've always wanted to print on a mirrored surface, so I worked with Jake Sorensen at the silkscreen printers PrismTech Graphics to source the right material. Vancouver has become known recently as a city of glass, so this isn't as whimsical as it sounds.
This is not just "shiny," it is mirrored, it reflects everything. This is my best shot of the whole poster: that's me reflected in the bottom (this copy is signed to my friends Cindy & Rory).
I printed on it in white ink.
See how perfectly it reflects my hands and the ceiling above me?
It's a limited edition of 225. The National got 1–175, and I got 176–225.
The only difference between the first 175 and the last 50 is that 1–175 were laminated with a clear laminate to protect them, as they were sold at the concert. Mine are unlaminated because they are slightly more reflective than the laminated ones.
They sold for $50 at the show on November 28 & 29th. (Sadly, I was away and couldn't go!) I may sell some of mine in the future but not yet. It is currently impossible for me to get around to put anything in the mail. One day I hope to have a system, but until then it's not for sale.
OK, this is it. This is the best thing I've made in a while ... that wasn't rejected, anyway. When the good folks at Lynda.com asked to do a documentary on me, that was fun enough, but when they asked for me to do an animation for the end credits, I was super happy, because not only did I get to do something I'd never done before, but I also got to honour the great people who worked on the video. (Original music by Reg Powell, as noted.)
I made it by creating all the frames in illustrator, and then handing those files over to Lynda.com to compile into a moving image. Magic! People often ask me about doing animation but usually they're thinking of something that grows organically ... you know, that growing swirling thing. I couldn't be less interested.
However, what I did want to do was show how I work with systems and parts. So the animations on these evolve into and devolve out of letterforms that are created from a pattern system.
The lettering is pretty much illegible until the last frame, when it comes clear, pauses, and then starts to disintegrate again.
There's alos a pattern transition between each credit.
Piles of fun, with thanks, as always to the folks at Lynda.com.
It is not uncommon for people to ask me to design a tattoo for them. My response is always "no" unless they're a personal friend of mine. However, when SwissMiss asked me to do a tattoo for her Tattly tattoos, I said yes, of course! Here it is on my wrist:
Incredibly, it stays on for a week or two ... although it hasn't been so long-lived on hairy arms. It's a strip of 4 tiles, and if you want to be inventive you could pattern it over a larger area, or cut it into smaller pieces for smaller tattoos.
You can buy it here, at Tattly tattoos.
This is my latest piece for my regular "column" with Varoom Magazine. The theme for this issue is "Next", which is one of my least favourite subjects these days, as it's been on my mind. So I created a piece that shows the direction that some of my work is taking, with bold, unusual layouts, and mixed media. Then I wrote a small diatribe about my fears of the subject of "next" and printed them in tiny type in the design.
With this issue, Varoom went to a tabloid size, and as this is on a double-page spread, it's quite large.
This detail shows my true feelings about "next" with "I DON'T KNOW", which i embellished onto a fan with nail polish.
Another detail which almost—almost!—shows the type.
Each year for the annual AGI Congress, members are asked to contribute to a special project. This year's theme was "Modular" and here is my submission.
For our participation in the OFFF Conference in Barcelona this year, we were asked to create a piece on the subject ot "Time", At least I think it was "Time", or was it "Future"? I forget. In any case I made this 2-page spread of Infinity.
Here's a detail:
Under Nike's NikeID project, they sometimes partner with Maharam for the fabric. This year, for the NikeID in the Japanese market, they used my Maharam "Centric" fabric (in all colours) for the NikeID Airforce One. Maharam, those sweethearts, had a pair made for me!
Sarah Habibi from Criterion (YES!) hired me to do this cover for Satyajit Ray's "The Mirror Room" (1958). She sent me the film (which I really enjoyed), and in it there was a chandelier which seemed to represent what we might call "old India" and the ways of the central character.
So I made a simple pattern based on chandelier crystals which I could use to make the image of the chandelier and the type.
Above, the DVD cover. Below, the booklet cover.
To order the movie for yourself, get it from Criterion!