Articles by Steph Guinan

Steph is a writer and data visualization designer living in Asheville, NC. Keep up with her projects at FlapjackMedia.com.
Digital

10 examples of #emojiarthistory

From Van Gogh to Frida Kahlo, Cantor Fine Art Gallery has designed a series of art-inspired emojis that are inspired by iconic artists and artworks. As the widespread use of emojis demonstrate a culture that is increasingly turning to visual icons as a form of expression, we’re delighted that we are now able to express whether we’re feeling more like Bansky or Warhol. We can also qualify our text messages by referencing an art piece by Damien Hirst, or the iconic painting by Magritte with an apple in front of his face. As more art history icons become emojis, we’re looking forward to seeing #emojiarthistory develop as the gallery continues to post on their Instagram. ...
Illustration

Illustrator creates visuals for Nextlix’s new product, Flixtapes

Netflix has launched a new browsing feature called Flixtapes, a spinoff of a mixtape that stops the endless browsing with a curated movie playlist.  In conjunction with the new digital offering, illustrator Freddy Arenas was commissioned to create more than 85 movie-themed illustrations. Using the brand’s signature red, the line drawings have the simplicity of tightly rendered icons. Movie genres are quickly referenced with a minimal drawing such as “SciFi” with an abducted cat, “Horror” with an axe and skull, “Action” with a tuxedo and pistol, and “Weird” with an octopus tentacle. Arenas is an art director and animator who has worked for clients such as The New York Times, Google, and HBO Documentaries. He says that he, “strides to create poetic relationships that convey ideas in a compelling and innovative way.” ...
Design

Celebrating paper with package design

Europapier is a 40-year old Austrian-based company that produces a paper catalogue called Design Papers. Independent design studio Metaklinika worked with the company to produce a package design that would showcase the 240 types of paper in the catalogue. In a neatly finished flip-top box, the two-tone design represents the two ideas of a tactile experience and excellence of quality. ...
Graphic Design

Packaging concept with an 80s aesthetic

Brazilian illustrator Lucas Wakamatsu has developed a packaging concept where a set of boldly colored drawings wrap around a drink can. His technique combined 3D models with 2D illustrations to create realistic representations of the final product. Using bright colors of fuchsia, yellow, and purple, the project invokes the 1980s. Speaking of the activated patterns that surround each can’s featured character, the designer describes the clusters of dots and lines as “pulsing in different vibes, being shaped by different frequencies.” ...
Architecture

Etsy’s newly designed office space

Architecture firm Gensler has designed office space for both Facebook and AirBnB. In a recent project, the company was commissioned by Etsy to create offices from industrial building that was once used by Jehovah’s Witnesses to print materials. Located in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, the new space was photographed by Garrett Rowland. In furnishing the space, the company turned to its network of artisans, resulting in about half of the 200,000-square-foot space being filled with handmade goods that were made locally. The lead designer, Amanda Carroll, said, “The emphasis on furniture was three times that of a regular project.” She added, “We had furniture meetings every single week, which is not normal.” ...
Fashion

Recreating traditional Ukrainian headdresses

Maysternya Treti Pivni (Ukr. Майстерня Треті Півні) is a collective of photographers, stylists, makeup artists, and promoters. In celebration of traditional Ukrainian culture, the group has staged photo shoots that recreate authentic, traditional attire of the country. The images show outstanding floral headdresses and crowns, exquisite embroidered textiles, collections of beaded jewelry, and the smiling faces of women who are celebrating their culture. The photos, while steeped in tradition, also feel fresh and contemporary. There is no artifice of old-fashioned; instead the photos show the traditional dress with vibrancy. ...
Interior Design

Interior murals with Japanese motifs adorn restaurant’s walls

Sydney-based architecture and interior design firm Luchetti Krelle focuses on designs for the hospitality sector. A collaboration between Rachel Luchetti and Stuart Krelle, the company has won many awards including the Sydney Design Awards and the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards. In an interior space they created in collaboration with Steelman Partners for the Japanese restaurant Kiyomi at Jupiter’s Hotel & Casino, we see an innovative use of of the Japanese motifs representing family and the seasons. Painted atop the visual texture of wooden blocks stacked at various heights, each mural gives a bold focal point to the dining booths. ...
Graphic Design

6 cooking recipes as infographics

Illustrator Jing Zhang has turned the six classic recipes into whimsical infographics. With graphics that resemble playful schematics, we see a dough ball roll down a spiral conveyor belt in the explanation for how to make a croissant, and we tiny people carrying tire-size olives to become pizza toppings in the how to make a pizza graphic. Other visualized recipes include how to make a burger, ramen, shumai, and the best cup of tea. Zhang is originally from mainland China and is currently living in east London. She says of her work, “I create tiny worlds and small people.” ...
Street art

Portal-like murals explore one artist’s concept of time

Artist Douglas Hoekzema (aka Hoxxoh) has painted murals in cities around the world. His fractal-like swirls of color have been added to public spaces in his hometown of Miami, Florida to Washington D.C., Detroit, and Vienna, Austria. The kaleidoscoping patterns in portal-like forms are focused around the concept of time and explorations of its qualities and aspects. “His paintings depict time as a sweet ride that flows by mixing spontaneity with precision,” says his website. “His works represent what happens when we let go of our control of time and let its predetermined course take control.” ...
Furniture

Origami becomes lighting in these birds made from folded paper

Made of folded paper and brass, the Perch Light is a sculptural light form made by London-based architect and designer Umut Yamac. Lit from within, the perching bird is perfectly balanced on the post, and just the slightest breeze has it rocking back and forth on its post. The series began in 2014 as a floor lamp in an edition of 20, and the concept has since been expanded to a family of six sculptural lamps that hang in a chandelier style. This new series for Moooi was launched at Salone del Mobile in Milan. ...
Creativity

30 days of GIFs from one animator’s stay in Los Angeles

London-based animator James Curran of SlimJim Studios spent the month of July in Los Angeles with the vow to make new animation each day representing something from his day’s activities. On the first day of his 30-day project, we see the long legged hiker climb a steep hill with a passing glimpse of the Hollywood sign. As project progresses, we see him battle traffic, go to the beach, skateboard at an art opening, and hang out with superheros. His #LAGifathon project is a sequel to his month-long NYC Gifathon that he did last year. “I really want to keep doing more work that’s spontaneous,” said the animator in an interview. “The main thing I want to avoid is spending months obsessing over projects, when I just want be creating and sharing as much as possible.” ...
Photography

The legs of New York

As the photo series Humans of New York has grown in popularity, Stacey Baker has taken a different approach to documenting the city and its diverse population. In a photo series that she calls Citi Legs, Barker has amassed more than 78,000 Instagram followers as she documents the women’s legs of her city. Barker, who is also a photo editor at the New York Times Magazine, will be releasing a hardcover book called New York Legs that will include a selection of her waist-down photos of strangers posed in front of a wall. Barker said in an interview, “I get the most likes on the sexiest pictures, the sexiest legs. I don’t personally think that those are the most interesting pictures — in fact, I think the pictures of legs that have more curves are far more interesting as pictures.” ...
Illustration

From magazines to murals: 7 lettering projects

Illustrator, designer, and mural artist Tobias Hall has been focusing on lettering and typography. In an interview, he said, “My aim is to become very much a one-stop shop for all styles of lettering, rather than focusing on one particular style.” Having graduated from university in 2010, Hall is currently based in London, and his clients have included clients like Netflix, Vodafone, Toyota, Time Magazine, and KFC. Like most freelancers, he finds pricing to be one of the most difficult parts of his job, but now that he has gained some success, he has hired an agent to save himself from that part of the process. Check out the video timelapse below that reveals the work that goes into an end product that appears so simple. ...
Creativity

Art installation lets you wear a cloud on your head

Have you ever been scolded for having your head in the clouds? While it may be a common for artists because of their involvement in daydreams and imaginary worlds, the phrase can now be just as easily applied to art-goers. A piece made by French duo Mickael Martins Afonso and Caroline Escaffre Faure has been installed at the Festival des Architectures Vives, creating an otherworldly environment of suspended clouds  that last much longer than these ephemeral indoor clouds that last for just 10 seconds. Photographer Paul Kozlowski of captured the sculptural installation with a stunning images of how the public interacted with the work. ...
Inspiration

7 photos of whales and dolphins from a retirement spent sailing the world’s oceans

Christopher Swann has been running whale watching tours for more than 23 years. Having brought his guests to such whale watching hot spots as Hebrides and the Sea of Cortes, he has retired and is now “sailing away around the world” exploring the seas and looking for his beloved whales and dolphins. In a collection of photos taken both above and below the surface of the water, he shares some of the encounters that he has had with marine mammals. He said in an interview, “To see animals so huge yet so graceful, so at ease and at one with their surroundings, is exquisite.” ...
Performance

Dance with your own shadow to improvised music from interactive installation

Mesa Musical Shadows is the title of an installation that Montréal’s interaction design studio Daily tous les jours has installed in Arizona’s Mesa Arts Center. Made from custom fabricated tiles with embedded speakers and light sensors, a sound is triggered by shadows so a person’s presence and movement will create the sound. Just as shadows are ever changing based on the time of day, the weather, and the season, the design studio poses the idea that “a visitor may never quite cast the same shadow twice”. This dynamic quality of the environment is embedded into the piece itself with the sounds changing with the angle of the sun, creating different sonic atmospheres at morning, the midday, the evening, and at night. ...
Creativity

7 objects that have self-deprecating thoughts

Blending her background in typeface design and hand-painted signage, Annica Lydenberg founded the design studio Dirty Bandits to work on typography, lettering and illustration projects. In a series called I'm a Piece of Garbage, Lydenberg rescues retro objects that were on their way to the dumpster and hand-paints them with puns and self-deprecating phrases. “With these phrases Dirty Bandits touches on deep insecurity and a struggle to maintain a sense of self worth,” says Lydenberg.   ...
Architecture

Installation of pinwheels demonstrates a community’s interconnection

The Pinwheel Pavilion is a temporary architecture installation at London’s Museum Gardens. Created by Five Line Projects Design and Research Office, the project won the Archtriumph Summer Pavilion Competition in 2016. With thousands of wooden wheels supported by steel pillars, the design is based on interconnection so that the push of a single wheel will turn its adjacent wheel, and on and on. The concept explores the relationship between the individual and community, and how much impact a single action can have. Based in East London, Five Line is an interdisciplinary studio of architects and designers that describe themselves as “constantly curious and creative[ly] driven.” ...
Industrial design

Design innovation: Solar panels are embedded into stained glass

A new design technology by Marjan van Aubel integrates solar cells into stained glass windows. Producing the products under the brand Caventou, the technology is similar to photosynthesis in the solar cells use the property of color to create an electrical current. These dye-sensitized solar cells have been integrated into both windows and glass tables, both of which are self-sufficient, needing no cables or wires to connect to the wall. Instead they have USB ports to charge your devices. “Different colours have different wavelengths and thus produce different energy levels,” explained van Aubel in an interview. “I had to work closely together with the dye-solar cell manufacturer to work out a pattern that was both beautiful and that generated a sufficient amount of energy.” van Aubel founded the product line with Peter Krige who focuses on technology development and Samira Ann Qassim whose focus is business development. ...
Sculpture

Letterforms made using mailed letters

Niral Parekh has created a series of sculptural typography pieces that use mailed letters to create letterforms. With his material list including postcards, newspapers, packages, and direct mailers, he used a wooden mail organizer as the structure and then carefully arranged the envelopes. The piece with the number “50” took the artist a total of nine straight hours to complete. You can watch the video of his process below. Another piece where he created the New York Times Magazine logo took 14 hours to complete. After completing that piece, he then mocked up a cover design that showcased his work. ...
Funny

A book about A-holes… the typographical kind

Curtis Canham has a design joke that asks, “You know, that negative space found in the letter 'A'?” Canham, a teacher and a designer, has created a book to explore this typographical question with a tongue-in-cheek coffee table book called A-holes: A type book. While his initial idea was to just create a book that is a visual compendium of A-hole shapes, he instead pulled from his background as an educator to look at the history of this commonplace and often overlooked typographic negative space. Having funded the project through Kickstarter, he jokes, “’Font’ is a four letter word that starts with an ‘F’.” Hear the designer talk about the beginnings of the project in the video below. ...
Interior Design

Coiled ceramics that slump and curl

Beginning potters often start out by coiling clay into vessels. Australian-based ceramicist Rose Wei has revisited this beginner technique and created forms that slump and curl elegantly. Working under the pseudonym Zhu Ohmu, the ceramic series was created as a response to 3D printing. She says, “I wanted to see how forms would turn out if I copied the way the 3D printer mound coils on top of each other with my hands.” The works will be exhibited in the exhibition, Wonky, a celebration of the wabi-sabi principles that will be held at Tinning Street Gallery. ...
Design

“Food for Thought” re-imagines novels as food tins

Los Angeles based designer Maria Mordvintseva-Keeler created this mock packaging project called “Food for Thought” using three books that reference food in their title. Looking at all three meals of the day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are illustrated with works by Capote, William Burroughs, and Anne Tyler. The designer says: “By looking at the packaging, you can find out the ‘daily value’ of humor and irony that the book contains, the number of pages that make the perfect ‘serving size’ and the ingredients of the novel.” ...
Design

The history of food told using icons

Spanish design studio, Papila is putting together a book called the Food History Project. Pairing icons with minimal text explanations, it is designed for visual learners to explore the co-evolution of humans and food. Starting with the moment when fire was discovered, the book takes you through the history of Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Metal Age, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Middle Ages, Modern Age, and the Contemporary Era. The design trio, Alberto Arza, Roberto Cortés and Eva García, looks at the intersection of food and design with all of their studio's projects including product design, interior design, event planning. ...
Art

Artist visualizes information overload with a panic-inducing installation

Visual artist Tess Dumon is studying Information Experience Design at the Royal College of Art in London. After watching her online newsfeed about the Paris terrorist attacks while sitting in her London apartment, Dumon was prompted to explore the concept of information overload and how our digital consumption is brought into our most private spaces such as a bedroom. With saccharine pink kaleidoscope patterns of Osama Bin Laden and Donald Trump combined with objects of confusion like a giant bunny, the artist is creating an environment that points to the anxiety and depression that result from media over-exposure. “The Internet is the new cabinet of curiosities. You can find anything you want. But it’s no longer butterflies and shells, it's about information and horrible images,” said the artist in an interview. ...
Illustration

Strips of paper used for lettering relief sculptures

Rather than using paper to make flat shapes, artist Sabeena Karnik instead uses cut paper strips that are set on their edges to create her designs. Not only does this way of working with paper lend itself to the beautiful line-work that we see Karnick create, but the photographed relief sculptures are made more interesting by the subtle shadows. Rather than a flat design, the artist’s technique results in works hat have a depth and flair. Often focusing on typography projects, Karnik has been commissioned to create her lettering relief sculptures as editorial illustrations for magazines as well as corporate promotions. ...
Graphic Design

The winners of this year’s 50 Books|50 Covers competition

The winners of this year’s 50 Books | 50 Covers competition have been announced. Organized by Design Observer in association with AIGA, the 700 entries were judged by Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand, and Barbara Glauber. The roots of the contest date to 90 years ago when the American Institute of Graphic Arts mounted the show The Fifty Books of 1923. As book formats are shifting from print to digital, the judges paid attention to how book covers “do double and triple duty, functioning not just as alluring packaging on the bookstore shelf, but as telegraphic icons in the realm of online marketing and sortable rubrics in online libraries.” View all fifty winning books can be viewed here and all fifty winning covers can be viewed here. Among the winners is the coffee table book Opera, which we previously profiled. ...
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