Visual trends: October 2014

Discover what should be inspiring you this month from the wider creative world. In the second in a new monthly series of features, Laura Snoad identifies the hottest and most pervasive creative trends. She brings together the best new work, projects and exhibitions from around the UK and beyond – across art, design, photography, music, film and more.

Halloween is fast approaching, but despite the huge range of mythology and folklore to mine for inspiration, as a holiday it can be quite visually clichéd.

If you’re keen to avoid ghosts and pumpkins for your seasonal projects, look to the international community for alternative tropes. Take Mexican animation studio Llamarada’s projection-mapping project that transformed Mexico’s largest cemetery Panteón de Dolores into a canvas for the country’s Day of Dead celebrations.

The studio selected a cluster of tombstones from Panteón de Dolores’ epic 700,000 graves to inspire an animation project, filled with psychedelic pattern-based sequences, neon portals into other dimensions and their anthropomorphic guardians. Watch it below.

Another way to avoid stereotypes is to experiment with new ways of approaching traditional horror memes. For the music video accompanying the track Oya by the band Ibeyi - the Afro-Cuban twin sisters that are among XL Recording’s latest signings - design duo Matthew Shaw and William Trossell from ScanLAB Projects created an eerie and disorientating forest by employing state-of-the-art large-scale terrestrial laser scanning techniques usually used for architectural renders.

By taking this unromantic, technical method and twisting it for creative ends, ScanLAB conjured a Blair Witch-like atmosphere with ghostly overlaps – a perfect accompaniment to Ibeyi’s Yoruba spirituals. Watch it below.

For an example of conventional Halloween body horror that’s just done very well indeed, look no further than the teaser animation for hip-hop beatmaker Flying Lotus’ new album Youre Dead!, which is released on Warp this month.

A long-time promoter of incredible design - the artwork for debut LP Los Angeles was created by Build and photographer Timothy Saccenti - FlyLo’s new offering features anatomical drawings with peeling skin, skeletons falling from the sky and a visceral, kaleidoscopic throbbing. They were all drawn by manga legend Shintaro Kago and animated by Strangeloop.

If Kago’s style is your thing, also check out the CT Lim-curated Southeast Asian Comics festival, which runs from 24 October - 2 November at London’s The Proud Archivist venue.

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Space and Sci-fi is a big theme for this month’s exhibition schedule, and provides a new twist on the over-arching psychedelic trend currently in full-swing throughout the creative industries.

Opening at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich is the Astronomy Photographer of the Year, a show that yields incredibly scope both in terms of inspiration for pattern, palette, and photography techniques. Aurora over a Glacier Lagoon by James Woodend (shown here complete and cropped detail), for example, would be an interesting place to start for many a dystopian, fantasy or Halloween-based illustration.

Taken on a Canon 5D Mk III using a ten-second exposure, it spectacularly showcases the aurora created by oxygen atoms high in the atmosphere, energised by subatomic particles.

London’s Calvert 22 Gallery hosts Beyond Zero, an exhibition that draws parallels between Russian non-objective art and the country’s space programme.

Filmmakers especially should look out for the work of Pavel Klushantsev, whose pioneering techniques into depicting weightlessness and lunar exploration for his sci-fi shorts were a great influence on Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas.

If you’re after further filmic inspiration for how designers have portrayed and challenged our conceptions of space and alternative lifeforms, turn to the BFI’s Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder programme, which runs until December.

For creatives already embracing the autumn’s interest in all things out of this world, check out fashion designer Junya Watanabe’s SS15 collection, Zaha Hadid’s new chessboard and the Reverie Sleep series from photography duo Synchrodogs (shown).

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If Reverie Sleep’s rainbow palette pushes your buttons, then hold tight – colour grouping is set to make a return this month. Dan Tobin Smith’s The First Law of Kipple filled his 200m studio during last month’s London Design Festival. For the work, Dan meticulously organised donated objects by colour - creating a seamless spread with interjecting paths.

Similarly designers Gerlinde Gruber, Christine Strempel, and Matthäus Jiszda created a sprawling, colour-coded urban landscape using more than 1,700 cardboard boxes as part of the Interpack trade fair. Both projects demonstrate the visual power or something as simple as strong chromatic organisation.

One of the biggest visual cues to come out of London Design Festival last month was the grid pattern, especially when employed in monochrome with flashes of primary tones.

Design boutique Darkroom paid homage to radical 70s Italian architects Superstudio - whose interest in grids as a form of anti-design was a comment on emerging globalisation - with a collection of grid-based furniture and an accompanying in-store installation by set designer Anna Lomax and artist Marcus James.

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Eley Kishimoto too has just launched a series of grid-inspired, hand-printed wallpapers. As with most product design trends, it tends only to be a matter of time until big movements trickle down to the graphics world - pattern and surface designers especially, take note.

In a similar vein, boxy, grid-like typefaces are on the rise again this month, perhaps in part due to the underlying sci-fi theme. A good example is the artwork for electronic musician Lee Gamble’s new release KOCH. Somewhere between Aztec inscriptions and space-age runs, the code-like lettering creates a striking visual impression, a perfect coupling for the otherworldly landscape depicted on the LP’s front cover.

As with the majority of releases on Pan, the artwork for KOCH was created by label boss Bill Kouligas.

For another innovative project featuring futuristic type, check out A23D - a new 3D-printed letterpress font masterminded by A2 and New North Press.

To create its ornate structure, the wire-frame font was 3D-printed from white ‘chemiwood' by an architectural model maker, and is available to use at New North Press's letterpress workshops.

The result signals an exciting progression in the history of letterpress, and potential for developments for this age-old technique in the future.

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See also October 2014 creative trends: 5 things you must see.