February 2015's visual trends: be inspired by love, bright colours and film posters for Oscar contenders

The themes, art, film posters, music videos, architecture and even hidden artwork on passports that should be inspiring you this month.

Are you in the mood for love? As Valentine’s Day approaches, it’s likely that one of your clients will want you to be. Just like Christmas and Halloween, the way to nail this over-commercialised festival is to avoid cliches and hackneyed visuals and strip it back to the core element – in this case, strength of feeling between two people.

For inspiration on how to capture this in an image, take a look at US-based curator Lindley Warren’s online project The Ones We Love. Warren invited photographers she admired from all over the world to submit a photograph that captured the essence of a person very dear to them, and the results are pretty spectacular.

With a huge range in age, gender and type of love (romantic, platonic, familial), there’s a lot to take home both in terms of how to break with conventional tropes, but also style and composition. Some images are symbolic (like this beautifully atmospheric shot by Amiko Li, top), whereas others are more literal (such as Heather Sten's photo of her grandmother and mother, bottom), making for very raw and unguarded portraiture because of the deep connection between model and photographer.

For another great example of how to capture emotional bonds in your work, take a look at the video for new track Devotion by Woman’s Hour (above). Directed by Weronika Tofilska, the film features twins (mostly identical) mirroring each others gestures. The simplicity of the motions, not to mention the greyscale palette and matching background presents a really pared-back framework which really forces you to engage with the body language of the twins.

Whether working on romantic briefs or not, both projects are a good reminder of the importance of making the people you’re working with feel comfortable, as it’s only once you’ve built a rapport with your models that they'll give you an honest and believable performance.

From love to rebellion – February also seems to be the month of a (perhaps related) sense of non-conformity, manifesting itself in a number of projects that cheekily vandalise existing images. At London’s KK Outlet this week, doodler extraordinaire Hattie Stewart opens her first solo show Doll House.

Hattie’s doodle-bombing series – which involves her digitally doodling over covers of the likes of Playboy, Dazed & Confused, Paper (yes, that cover), The Gentlewoman, Rolling Stone, The Face and NME – straddles a clever line between critical and commercial, flattery and re-appropriation, making attention-grabbing, vibrant works while gentling poking fun at celebrity culture.

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The show will also include new pieces by Hattie – including customised lather jackets, neon signage and a real doll’s house and should be a great source of inspiration for anyone looking at how to subversively deal with celebrities in their own work.

Similarly artist David Batchelor exhibits a collection of drawings that deface every page of the first issue of well-esteemed art journal October, published in 1976, at London’s Whitechapel Gallery this month.

Well known for his bright colourful sculptures that combine industrial materials with chromatic light, Batchelor is using the show and accompanying book to make a humorous dig at the famous journal, which since its launch in 1976 has (quite ridiculously) never reproduced a work in colour.

Gently mocking the art establishment’s conservatism and making a much larger statement about the fear of colour in the West (as outlined in his book Chromophobia), Batchelor shows how you can make quite a profound statement by the simple act of doodling.

If you’re looking at ways to explore this idea in the digital sphere take a look at new app FB Graffiti (which allows you to creatively adorn people’s Facebook photos), street artist INSA’s GIF-ITI app (which transforms his murals into hypnotic gifs) and Tuista (a project that explores the realm between digital art and graffiti).

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As you can see from the two projects before, it appears as though in-terms of palette trends, we might finally be moving away from pastels, instead opting for in-your-face brights. Camper’s SS15 campaign is great example is how to do bold tones unapologetically.

Directed by the brand’s long-term collaborator Romain Kremer, who has been joined by filmmaker Daniel Sannwald and stylist Anna Trevelyan, the concept behind the film and accompanying shoot is to give each new shoe an avatar that represents them visually and stylistically, whether that be all-white body paint Yayoi Kusama-style tangerine wigs.

Also it’s a very interesting example of how to run an entire campaign using Tumblr, something more and more fashion brands are likely to do.

For examples of the brights trend far outside of the advertising industry, take a look at these two architectural projects. The Redline in France by Pietri Architectes contrasts a blocky white apartment building with a bright cerise interior courtyard, using a ombre effect not dissimilar to some of Gaudi’s most famous residential interiors.

Photo: Serge Demailly

Jean Nouvel’s artists’ garden’ in the Chinese city of Qingdao, plays on a similar principle, presenting a bright abstract map of the region on the underbelly of a more conventional walk-way.

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For a totally different project but similar in concept, take a look at the new Canadian passport. It was introduced back in 2013 but has been hiding a secret since then – put the design under UV light and you're presented with a psychedelic array of colours – only reveal to the net recently thanks to the discovery of this Imgur user.

For those after a viral smash, clever hidden elements like this are a sure way to get attention, even if you might have to leak their existence.

It’s The Oscars on the 22nd of the month, so excellent films have been coming thick and fast recently. The world of film posters is a challenging and often quite conservative arena to work in – what with the intensive approval process and huge number of credits to squeeze on – so it’s promising to see some exciting creative coming to the stage this year.

Inherent Vice, a retelling of a Thomas Pynchon novel by director Paul Thomas Anderson, is itself a brightly hued feast for the eyes (as you can see from the trailer below), but its online poster series by BLT Communications is equally impressive.

Focusing on a different lead character each time, the series is a haze of seedy lighting and colour and neon-inspired type – and is the first time in a while that illustration has been in such a large scale in the industry.

Note how the unusual background texture prevents the poster from looking too slick and cheesy – something to bear in mind if you’re hoping to follow the current trend for all things 70s.

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My other nominee for Best Poster would go to Whiplash – its Cold Open-designed poster for has been doing the rounds both online and on the London Underground.

The top-heavy composition and sense of restlessness created by actor Miles Teller hovering tentatively at the edge of the drumstick is a good indicator of the tense nature of the film. A clever poster for a clever movie, and hopefully a sign of more to come.