• 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.

    November 2011
  • 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.

    September 2011
  • 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.

    October 2011
  • 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.


    Magazine spread
    September 2011
  • 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.

    Vector Art
    September 2011
  • 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:

    A Thing
    Flower petals (digitally placed)
    May 2011
  • 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!

    Fabric design
    June 2011
  • 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!


    DVD Cover
    March 2011
  •  Casey Dillon at Bronze in San Fracisco hired me to do 2 patterns for some wine labels for his client Rivers-Marie.

    Then Casey did a beautiful job on the design of the labels themselves. Here's the first pattern:

    Beautifully printed ...

    The second pattern is similar, but based on a crown for the Corona Vinyard:

    April 2011
  • I worked with Carolina Soderholm at Bruce Mau Design to develop this patterny thing for the Dorado Beach resort in Puerto Rico. Meant to somehow evoke a luxurious, elegant, lush jungle, it works with their logo both as single, free-form embellishment, and as a full-on tiling pattern.


    I believe that they covered a wall in it somewhere, but I don't have any pictures. 

    And here is the project on Bruce Mau's site.

    Identity Embellishment
    January 2011
  •  In this, the 2nd of my regular "column" for the UK Illustration magazine, Varoom, the theme was "Knowledge". So I decided to create a map which refers somewhat to the "known" beyond which lie monsters.


    I had a lot of fun making this ...


    It's fun to give directions on the map. There are places of elation and places of despair.


    All sorts of destinations and paths we end up in in the pursuit of knowledge.


    Including Brain Town ...

    This was typeset in the font Absara by Xavier Dupré.


    Vector Art
    February 2011
  • Michael Salu, the Art Director for Granta Publications in the UK hired me to do this cover for Chris Adrian's A Better Angel. (Showing front cover and spine.) It's a companion piece for Adrian's The Great Night.

    Book cover
    Vector art
    March 2011
  • Michael Salu, the Art Director for Granta Publications in the UK hired me to do this cover for Chris Adrian's The Great Night. (Showing front cover and spine.) It's a companion piece for Adrian's A Better Angel.

    Book Cover
    Vector art
    March 2011
  • It's that time of year again, and herewith are my 2011 Valentines. Because this Valentine thing has gotten a little out of control in a covetous way, I thought it would be nice if I was able to give people multiple valentines that were all similar but slightly different, so they could keep one or two for themselves and still have a few to give away. So I created a modular heart with which I could easily make 10 variations, and as well I made a heart that says "Remember when we were young, we used to give Valentines to all our friends." (My best friend's 7-yr-old did not get this at all, repeatedly saying "But we do give Valentines to our friends." Yeah, wait 'til you're older, kid.)

    So here's the press sheet:

    Each person got one of the following in either blue or pink:

    And then they got 4 or 5 different Valentine hearts. As I said, they are supposed to give them away, but it seems people like to hoard them! These are Kim Berlin's at Sterling Brands:

    Kirsten Skipp has added one to a shrine:

    Mark Mushet might have given the rest away like a good boy ...

    Nik Hafermass has added his to his growing collection:

    Stanley Hainsworth has made an odd justaposition:

    Darling Tan Le is ready to cash in:

    But the amazing Stefan Bucher really knew what to do! ... crazy kid!!

    The process for making these was documented by  Lynda.com. in this VIDEO! 

    With big thanks to David White and Scott Erickson and all the folks at Lynda.com.

    You might be wondering how you get on my Valentine list. The answer is it's tough. This is a monumental effort for me each year so I'm not anxious to expand the list. However, hiring me and paying me gobs of cash is a pretty sure bet. ;)





    Vector art
    February 2011
  • The excellent UK illustration magazine Varoom has asked me to do a regular gig for them. Starting in November 2010, in each issue (only 3 per year, sadly) I will do something on the issue theme, whatever that might be. This first one is on "relationships".

    It shows levels of relationships, intertwined, because of course it's never so clear. But it starts at the top with "unconditionally loved" and goes through various relationships to the bottom with "passionately detested". Then on the left is listed "real" relationships, from "child" to "nemesis", and on the right are the "imagined" relationships which goes from "god" down to the merely known or those who are the furthest from us, the "unknown".

    Above is how it printed. Below is the original pencil drawing (bad scan).

    Can't wait for the next one!

    Pencil drawing
    October 2010
  • It's been a long time in the process and making, but here is the first of my fabric designs for Maharam.

    Maharam is a very high end fabric company, mostly for the trade (architects, interior designers) with “a strong focus on new technologies and cultural markers, often finding inspiration beyond the textile industry, including collaborations with avant-garde industry outsiders.” That would be me.

    This is a fabric built for seating, and is made of 34% Rayon, 33% Cotton & 33% Polyester. Its durability is listed as "40,000+ double rubs", which is a lot of rubbing, if you ask me.

    And it comes in 7 amazing colours. I am particularly excited about the red, the red-brown and that stunning turquoise!

    To see this and all the specs, or order it, go to Maharam.


    Vector art
    December 2010
  • Maharam has released another of my designs as digital wall coverings, to join the first three.

    This one is made from an old scratchboard pattern drawing I did, of ...

    Spacemen! I've always loved this pattern of spacemen getting into some serious trouble as they struggle with some weird and devious space monster thing.

    The original drawing was quite small, so the enlargement shows all the scratchy detail, which I hope isn't a problem.

    To see this on the Maharam website, or to order it, go to the Maharam Virtual Library and click on the binder (currently on far left) called Maharam Digital Projects, and then click on the index at top right, and scroll though to find mine. As always you'll be distracted by the many other truly brilliant designs there are.


    Wall paper
  • This is the art for an ad I did for the company Sunday, in the UK, with their tagline.


    Vector art
    October 2010
  • #17

    This number 17, made from toothpicks, was my contribution to a 17th birthday book of 17s, for Emily Oberman and Bonnie Siegler of the design firm Number 17.

    July 2010
  • Jen Beckman and Sara Distin asked me to take part in their 20x200 project: wherein they create art prints for reasonable prices by a wide variety of artists, and new work going up every few days (or is it every day? I can't tell).

    The art comes in different sizes, and usually you just get a bigger version of whatever the print is. But to me it seemed that the more you spend, the more you should get ... so above is what you get in the 8x10 (inches) size for $20, and below is what you get in the 11x14 size for $50 ...

    Big spenders can buy even more, at 16x20 for $200 ...

    And if you have a lot of wall space, or you're greedy, or rich, or all three, you can spend $2,000 and get this 30x40 inch baby ...

    These are currently unavailable at 20x200, but if  they return, I will post them under "Things for Sale".

    Art Prints
    Vector art
    October 2010
  •  This cover for Creative Review has my name on it because they wanted it, even over my slight objection. Well, there is a profile of me in the mag, so ...

    The theme of the issue is "Dream Studios" so I imagined my dream studio, which is similar in location to what I have, but in a sleek modernist building with lots of windows. 

    It's printed on an uncoated textured paper with silver foil, so it's pretty bitchin'.

    (btw, on the CR site you can also see a page spread which shows a photo of me by my friend Mark Mushet.)



    Vector art
    September 2010
  • Penguin and the RED charity joined forces on a special series of Penguin Classics, and Jim Stoddart at Penguin Books in the UK, asked me to be one of several designers creating typographic covers from words in each novel. I chose Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence, with the words "I couldn't give her up now." You can read what you want into it.

    This is painted in oils, which I haven't done in a while, so I was quite pleased with how it turned out. So was Jim. He sent me an email that was so effusive I thought maybe he was being sarcastic.

    I did this in May, but the book only just arrived in my mailbox.


    Book Cover
    Oil painting
    May 2010
  •  Each year, for the Alliance Graphique International (AGI) congress, members are invited to contribute something to an exhibit. This year, for the Porto Congress, the theme was "Process" and we were asked to make a map of our process. So I documented each step of a project I was working on at the time, and compiled the whole thing into a step-by-step map of my process.

    Vector art
    September 2010
  •  It was a tragedy when this cover for a Canadian magazine (name changed to protect the innocent) was rejected.

    Given carte blanche to design a special edition cover in red, black and silver, this was my intended design. The job was killed part way through, but I liked it so much I decided to finish it.

    Cover (rejected)
    Vector Art
    August 2010
  • Very simple ... an illustration for the Contents page of the October issue of Fast Company.


    September 2010
  • I Wonder by Marian Bantjes

    208 pages
    Hard cover
    15.5 cm × 24cm (approx. 6 × 9½ inches)
    Printed in full colour plus gold throughout.
    List price: £19.95 / $40
    Release date: October, 2010

    Published in the UK by Thames & Hudson, ISBN 978-0-500-51529-7
    Published in the USA by The Monacelli Press, ISBN 978-1580932967

    I spent 15 months writing, illustrating and designing this book. It’s a gorgeous hardcover, with gold and silver foils on a satin cloth, with gilded page edges. It’s printed in 5 colours throughout (mostly CMYK + Gold) on a coated stock. At a smallish size, it is a book meant for holding and reading, curled up in your favourite chair.

    Every single illustration is new, created for the book, and the content is not about my work (i.e. not a monograph), but instead combines graphic art with the written word, and lends my own contemplative but frequently amused voice to my observations of the world.

    Some of the articles were originally published as blog posts for the now-archived blog Speak Up, but they have been resurrected, edited, rewritten and given new life in these pages.

    Those quirkier writings are interspersed between more philosophical musings on the nature of Wonder and Honour and Memory as they pertain to graphics and the visual world around us.

    As a book experience, the relationship between the content and the graphics is very important. They are totally interdependent and neither the articles nor the graphics can live without the other.

    The book is in many ways eclectic, with a variety of forms and moods, represented in an abundance of typefaces and graphic styles. But, much in the way of one of my favourite films, the documentary “Fast, Cheap and Out of Control” by Errol Morris, this disparity picks up threads one from another as it progresses, and starts to weave together in a unified whole.

    Ultimately the range of thoughts, personal history and hare-brained ideas come together. To the eyes, it is a feast for visual gluttons, but as those who are familiar with my work will already know, there is food for the mind and the heart as well.

    There are even secrets …

    While the book will be enjoyed by designers and our ilk, it also has a broad range of appeal. The thoughts and experiences within are largely universal, and at times very personal. Buy one for your mother! Your nephew! Your boyfriend!

    It's available worldwide (in theory), at bookstores where you can paw it before buying, or at Amazon, of course.

    Here are some shots of the press proofs:


    And close-ups of the cover:


    "I Wonder is not a monograph but, in Bantjes’ words, ‘a book of ideas’, a generous collection of essays lovingly typeset, illustrated, laid out and produced in a manner that resists a quick glance, a skim read or any easy generalisation or summary. This is ‘slow print’, in which Bantjes’ mind-bogglingly detailed type and lettering forces the reader to spend time with this elaborate yet welcoming book. [...] I Wonder is undeniably obsessively stylish but its contents are by turn informed, witty and, in the case of the chapters about ‘Memory’, movingly personal."
    — John Walters, "Slow Print", Eye #77

    "...I am compelled to write about “I Wonder” with as much flourish as is graphically demonstrated on page after page; I find the book that engaging. [...] Bantjes’s deceptively compact trove of visual riches, whose floriated cover design is printed in gold and silver metallic inks, with gilt-edged pages that suggest a venerable religious document, is packed with as many stylistic variations as are possible by one author/artist/designer in 192 pages. And it is a wondrous, if breathless, display of virtuosic craft. [...] not a typographic jewel or fleuron or dingbat (as printer’s decorations are called), not a scratch or scribble or scrawl (as some of the typographic techniques should be called) is out of place."
    — Steven Heller, "Graphic Content | Marian Bantjes, Illuminated", New York Times Magazine

    " 'I Wonder' is more than just eye candy. It is worth taking the time to explore Bantjes' theoretically founded design approach: The illustrations not only serve as decorative frames, but deliver important information which is tightly interwoven with the texts. For example, the photographic series of everyday, bland signposts in the author's hometown first reveals the idiosyncratic typographic appeal of everyday graphics. Not until these elements are agglomerated do the larger patterns in her work take form. [...] 'I Wonder' is a playground for Marian Bantjes' non-conformist emotional approach to design. This stance, which draws its vitality from a childish curiousity makes it a marvelous antithesis to increasingly strategic and calculated communication design."
    —Wiebke Lang, "Bantjes wundert sich / A Book of Many Wonders", Form Magazine (Germany)

    "I Wonder rises above the usual design book in the way Bantjes marries her text — a deeply considered set of essays on topics such as Wonder, Ornament, Honor, the Alphabet — with the shapes and patterns her imagination enters to reveal layers of meaning. Again, those of us familiar with her art will not be surprised at how she uses everyday elements to capture profound thoughts. In Bantjes’ world, there is really no boundary between text and ornament, message and medium, everyday and profound. What I found most rewarding about I Wonder, though, is that instead of merely impressing or (worse) intimidating, the book is a testament to the artist/author’s belief in the ultimate democracy of the act of creation."
    —Tom Biederbeck, Felt and Wire

    "I Wonder never, ever stops to let your eyeballs rest. It just keeps coming at you with page after dense page of visual stimulus. It’s like a mix tape that never, ever ends of the best of Metallica, Guns N Roses, Led Zeppelin, Spinal Tap (yes, that Spinal Tap), and perhaps some Pink Floyd while another tape plays classical music on your other ear. In other words, it rocks."
    —Armin Vit, Quipsologies

    "... this book, with its carefully crafted pages has the aura of a precious, if not divine object. Reading and looking at its cornucopia of visual expression, on subjects ranging from IKEA to gravestones, to Santa, makes you feel that held within here there is some hidden code, some secret path to creativity. And at the heart of all this is Bantjes' ability to deliver all this with levity."
    —John O'Reilly, Varoom! magazine (UK), #13, Summer 2010, pages 62–63

    "... we’re also taken with Bantjes’s sentences, and with her knack for conveying just why it is that certain images cut us to the quick, or kick our imaginations into a higher gear. This eye-catching book is chock-full of brain candy."
    Very Short List

    "I was struck that while making notes that my first four bullet points had the word feel in it. It’s appropriate in so many ways. Before opening it I felt I needed to wash my hands. I sort of wish that it had a special box to contain it. Turning the pages was an activity in joy. I loved the weight and the embossing of the front and back covers."
    —Michael Surtees, Design Notes

    "More than anything I’ve seen recently this book is a tactile experience, and yet another volume (that designation which Borges always used to emphasise) which makes a nonsense of the idea of screens as an adequate replacement for all books."
    —John Coulthard, feuilleton

    "With the book's insistence on narrative, and focus on typography, the result combines the best of two worlds. It's a readable collection of smart, visually-intense short stories, and a design book that will likely never leave your coffee table."
    —Alissa Walker, FastCoDesign

    Mixed media Throughout
    September 2010
  • Wallpaper* Magazine asked me once again to be a part of their exhibit at the Salon del Mobile in Milan this year. They approached me to apply graphics to a Laser Sailboat.

    It just so happens, I’ve always wanted a Laser.

    I decided to avoid the obvious of working with organic forms to go with wind, water etc., and instead work deliberately against those forms. I wanted to make something that was incredibly distinctive in the water, and which would disguise its speed and versatility. To create an optical illusion of sorts, of something that looked like it didn’t belong in the water at all, much like the cubist patterns of WWI & WWII “dazzle” naval camouflage.

    This is the finished boat, and the photo as it ran in the August 2010 “Handmade” issue of Wallpaper*. The photo is by Benedict Redgrove.

    I worked with Sarah Douglas at Wallpaper*, James Lund Lack at Laser Performance, Alastair Goodall at Inchmere Design in the UK, and John Brooks at Hyde Sail in the Philippines.

    And here’s the transom:

    The sail, being a one-off*, was hand painted:

    And here is someone in the UK taking it for a spin on a sad little English day before it was shot for Wallpaper. (Thanks to James Lund Lack for the photos.)

    But here’s the good news! YOU CAN BUY ONE! Wallpaper is making a limited edition of 12, each for the small sum of £10,000. How can you resist? Order yours from Wallpaper* now!

    It’s been making some … er … waves in the sailing community, too.




    April 2010

  • 70

    For the New York Times Week in Review, I created this illustration as a response to the following summary:

    “In many ways Ringo turning 70 and celebrating by playing radio city is exactly the kind of counterpoint that gerontologists like Robert Butler, who died this week, dreamed of when they first talked about “ageism” forty years ago. It shows the world that elderly people can be creative, vibrant, active. At the same time, the pressure is increased, which Butler also talked about: to “successfully age,” we think we have to be active. The stories we hear are at two poles, it’s either early onset Alzheimers or the skydiving 92 year old. The pressure is particularly acute in the 70s, which is now thought of as the time just after you retire. In fact, life expectancy is still in the 70s.”

    And a closer look …


    dead stuff

    July 2010

  • So

    This illustration was made to accompany an article in The New York Times about the word “So”. Picking up from this line in the article:

    And “so” suggested a kind of thinking that appealed to problem-solving types: conversation as a logical, unidirectional process, proceeding much in the way of software code — if this, then that.

    I decided to create a pattern out of the words “IF THEN” and then pick “So” out of that pattern.

    Editorial Illustration

    Vector art

    June 2010

  • I’m a big fan of the band The National, so when I got a call to do a gig poster for them, I was very excited. This wasn’t to be a poster that would hang on the streets, but would be more of a commemoration of the event, for sale at one concert only: at the Wiltern in LA. I’ve never been to The Wiltern, but I’ve admired the building from the street and I knew it by name. It’s a beautiful Art Deco building, and while I didn’t want to do a Deco poster, I did want to reference the geometry somehow.

    But also, I was thinking about how it would be dark in there, and maybe hard to see. Thinking about concerts, etc., I decided to make a poster that was actually 3 posters in one. By using Black, Flourescent pink and Glow-in-the-dark inks, I made a poster that would look one way in daylight (above), another way in Black Light (or ultraviolet light):

    and different again in the dark:

    The poster was screen-printed by Delicious Design League; great poster designers in their own right.


    Vector Art

    April 2010