The old maxim goes “an image is worth a thousand words” but this month several designers have harnessed the power of a perfectly timed quote. Rebecca Ross, the course leader at Central Saint Martins’ Communication Design MA, launched the London is Changing project last week, which explores current economic and political changes in the capital using huge typographic billboards.
The quotes were carefully picked from many submitted using a website (designed by former student Duarte Carrilho da Graça) that Ross created to survey those moving to or from the capital.
“The idea is to create links between personal stories and some of the data that doesn’t often get into human specifics,” Rebecca told reporters. “Numbers are summaries of our experiences, but I don’t think people feel a sense of how they themselves fit into the summaries.”
Its impact was huge, going viral within just a few days. It shows not only the importance of community engagement and tapping into strongly felt sentiment with your projects, but also the power of using words alone.
Penguin has taken a similar approach with the advertising campaign surrounding its Little Black Classics, a series of 80 titles published to celebrate its 80th birthday which all retail at 80p each. Its London Underground advertising campaign features short quotes from the titles on offer, and an accompanying website allows you to generate anonymous quotes by spinning a tiny penguin around a dial.
If you click twice, its orator – and the book they feature in – is revealed. Some of them are familiar but the strength of the campaign is its ability to generate curiosity. Notice how the design for Little Black Classics and London is changing is monochrome and pared back to the extreme. If you’re keen to use quotes in your own work, this isn’t the only way of doing it, but if you want the words to be the star of the show, a knock-out blow of minimalism is often the most effective.
Using a similar palette (but that’s where the similarity ends as this one’s all about the image), AnOther magazine has just launched its Digital Limited Edition, an issue that claims to have the first high-definition moving magazine cover. Plug your headphones into the spine and you’re greeted with footage of cover star Rihanna intimately interacting with the reader.
Fittingly, considering the V&A’s upcoming Savage Beauty exhibition dedicated to the work of the late Alexander McQueen opens this week (its innovation and theatre makes it a must-see, whether you work on fashion projects or not), Ri-Ri is wearing BDSM-inspired garments by the fashion house and the video is soundtracked by a playlist by longtime McQueen collaborator DJ John Gosling.
With a limited run of 1000, this edition of AnOther is definitely a collector’s item rather than a mainstream roll out, but it’s an excellent example of the need to create a whole brand world around your imagery and push the boundaries of traditional print formats.
As an aside, check out the videos of one of the musicians featured on John Gosling’s soundtrack, Bristol-based producer Vessel, if you’re after some challenging, oddly sexy filmmaking.
Movement (and music) is increasingly important in fashion editorials, and expensive projects like AnOther’s digital cover are not the only way to to achieve impact. For example Freel & Gorse created a strangely creepy fashion shoot using GIFs late last year, which make a statement through tiny twitches, not all-singing, all-dancing animation or film.
The project plays on the unnerving nature of seeing an image you thought was static suddenly slightly alter – something that in this case neatly matches the tone of the shoot. Subtlety is often just as powerful as all-out showmanship.
GIF art generally is going through an all-time purple patch at the moment, with more and more artists using the format in creative and unexpected ways rather than just for LOLs. London-based visual artist Natalia Stuyk, for example, frequently plays with GIFs in her personal and commercial work, which ranges from Bollywood-inspired photoshoots (where the only moving section is a dance routine on a tiny TV) to gifs for Kylie Minogue and Jean Paul Gaultier - or background GIFs for Adidas Originals.
She also carries the GIF aesthetic into her animation work – take this Tokyo-inspired animation which Stuyk also created the music for. Keep your eyes peeled for Stuyk’s new interactive art project GIF + RECEIVE, which is due to launch this month.
Not GIFs as such but similarly playing on quirks of the the digital realm, browser-based art is also gaining traction this Spring. Practitioners like LA-based Adam Ferriss create small glitches and movements on screen, which make pixels feel like organic, living entities.
Hamburg-based NobleNorse Studio’s latest personal project Holographic Glitch similarly uses the effect, and rethinks Peter Saville's iconic artwork for Joy Division. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this project is its potential to replicate some finishes (like iridescence) that were once thought of as print-only – editorial and app designers take note.
If you’re keen to experiment yourself, Holographic Glitch was creating using Glitché, an online platform with a range of tools that help you turn images into “masterpieces of digital art”.
If your design practice involves 3D work, whether that’s creative direction, set design or photography, you can also translate the glitch trend into real life – take these incredible installations by Dominique Pétrin.
The Montreal-based multidisciplinary artist also uses IRL GIFs as sets for her performance pieces, it’s easy to see how something similar could be used for a number of creative endeavours.
Glitch has long been a strong aesthetic in electronic music, and there are several recent videos that have been particularly exciting. London-based digital artist – and former assistant to digital art icon Quayola – Matteo Zamagni has used glitch to tell the story of the galaxy, asteroids and the sun’s gravitational pull for the video for electronic musician Tsvi's track Malfunction.
A mind-blowing piece of work, he developed the animated 3D renders using Cinema 4D, fractal 3D software Mandelbulb 3D, photo scanning techniques, microscopic videos and sound reactive particle systems, he told Intel/Vice's The Creator’s Project.
For an analogue version of a similar idea, take a look at this surreal video by Kamiel Rongen, made by mixing different liquids together in a fish bowl. Water, oil, sugar and different powders make up the different colours and consistencies, and Rongen changed the playback speed and flipped the image to make it look more otherworldly.
If you’re looking for places where you can see top notch music-related projects, this month is set to yield a bumper crop. As part of the London-based music festival Convergence, onedotzero and PRS for Music Foundation are holding a day-long session on 20 March entitled Innovation in multimedia, digital art and live music visuals, with speakers from digital studio Marshmallow Laser Feast, cutting-edge event Music Tech Fest, audio-visual duo Hexstatic, and Warp artist Mira Calix.
At the Union Chapel on March 22, Analema Group and a collection of contemporary musicians present KIMA, a multi-layered, real-time, interactive art piece that’s based on mathematical equations derived from the environment. Projecting on to the Union Chapel’s stunning carved ceiling, this audio-visual performance is expected to look and sound amazing.
Not A/V based but exciting all the same, Cover Club returns to Ace Hotel in London’s Shoreditch for its third edition on 31 March. As the name might suggest, this event promotes the designers of exceptional album artwork and this edition is dedicated to Lewis Heriz, an illustrator, designer and art director who has created work for labels like Sofrito, Soundway and Now-Again/Stones-Throw.
Heriz specialises in creating artwork for musicians from across the globe, and will share insight on particular projects, the landscape as a whole and how he's avoided clichéd representations of ‘world’ music to create something quite spectacular.