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Last weekend we went to Warsaw to a Patti Smith concert (and yes, she rocked) and used the opportunity to visit the exhibition of the International Poster Biennale in Wilanów. Having seen at least the last six exhibitions, we feel we have a decent sense of the direction the competition is taking and, unfortunately, we didn’t love this year’s selection. Of course, there were glorious exceptions and we’ll show you a couple below but, in general, the selected group of works felt very uniform and not in a good way.

Most of the posters, especially the ones you see right after entering, shared a few characteristics: a messy all-over-the-place composition, often-pointless typographic games and, worst of all, a general lack of ingenious ideas. This goes against what we usually like in poster design, hence our disappointment. While the previous exhibitions showed enough variance to satisfy all kinds of taste, this year we felt most of the posters were similar and attacked us with their joyful chaos without satisfying our craving for smart ideas and clear design. I guess most of the jury shared similar taste, more so than during previous editions, and a little different from ours.

Enough complaining. Obviously, we also found a few great works and these are the ones we’d like to share. Disclaimer: we certainly missed a few interesting things (as well as the whole student selection) so just because something doesn’t appear here, it doesn’t mean we didn’t like it.

dmitry-mirilenko-majakowskiThis series of posters by Dmitri Mirilenko about Mayakovsky won a third prize (one of three) and we feel it could’ve won more. Seeing as this kind of dispersed typographic composition dominated this year’s selection, and was not always used successfully, we really appreciate how in these posters it’s made to click. This works in a somewhat abstract, but legible, way appropriate for the work of an avant-garde poet and we appreciate this kind of thinking. Also, the trend is made to work for the subject matter not against it.

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Among a multitude of posters which were based on filling the space with many elements (and all looked so similar), this was the only one that really stood out for us because it shows that the author controls the chaos up to every little detail (which makes it anti-chaos?). Also, it has an idea, simple as it is (young=egg), and – last but not least – it’s very pretty. This one is by Yanting Chen.

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A Polish accent, a poster by Ryszard Kaja. We appreciate this one because sometimes designers who were very strong when the Polish School of Posters dominated don’t fit in so well with newer aesthetics but not so in this case. (Also, during the last biennale Kaja charmed us with his series of posters for various regions of Poland, check them out some time.)

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Currently we’re spending way too much time on material typography so obviously we picked out all the posters which also used it and pretty lovely examples these are. The first one by Philippe Apeloig, with a nice nod to modernism and an impressive control over his medium.

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Two posters (which may or may not be our favorites of the whole exhibition) by Ariene Spanier. Nice use of materials to reflect the subject matter and great ideas.

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One more Polish accent, The Cherry Orchard poster by Homework. We’ve been fans of their minimalism for quite a while now and we add this one to the list of their posters we love.

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Finally, a couple of posters that focus on ideas rather than just playing with form. A tribute to Malevich by Youri Toreev, with a nod to the black square.

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And a poster by our friend Anita Wasik for a yearly edition of a festival of street art. This one is a continuation of her previous poster for the festival, which we love dearly and which looks like this:

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However, we’ve yet to see a poster whose joy value would equal feeding squirrels in the park, which we did after we saw the posters. So, we’ll leave you with this happy picture to wish you a good week.

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re-infobox-02This is a little job we did a while ago for InfoBox, which is an institution of Gdynia set up for the promotion of the city and for chronicling the changes happening (such as investments and urban development). We designed a T-shirt for the opening of InfoBox, illustrating their tagline “The Observatory of Changes.” We wanted the illustration to be simple and playful and to engage the element of the logo (we also designed the logo a longer while ago). The number of colors was limited by the printing technique but that was actually for the best. As Gdynia is located by the sea, seagulls are a common (and sometimes a little scary) sight here. (Seriously, seagulls are creepy.)

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re-strzelecki-05Ugh, late again, but please bear with us, this summer is very busy. Today untypically we wanted to share with you recent work, a poster for a competition organized by the Museum of Emigration in Gdynia that we’re rather happy with. The competition asks participants to, while traveling, find a cool Polish emigrant abroad and take a picture or make a movie about them. The tagline is “Man above Borders” and we decided to focus the illustration on this (and, I guess, on focus).

We were pleased to have a chance to do something out of paper and spent a good part of a Saturday cutting out the world and people popping out of it. And then we also spend a Tuesday on doing it all over again when the idea changed some. That’s fine, though, we’re easily amused, as I tend to repeat.

Orange is a brand color for the Museum, which allowed for the unusual color scheme (we tried blue, but orange won). We focused (there, I did it again) on details, too, like placing the Museum logo so that it’s exactly below the focus frame. And we even managed to add small illustrations. It’s always a lot of fun when a project leaves us enough freedom to  try out more unusual solutions.

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Not exactly the making of, but bits and pieces of the poster:

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And the whole poster:

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As we keep working on our not-yet-to-be-shown projects, we use the opportunity to continue with the awesome books we have recently bought. We could be doing it for a year and more but we’re planning to actually return to showing our creative efforts soon. However, for today enjoy these.

In one of the previous book-related posts we showed you a catalog for Gierymski’s exhibition in Warsaw but that wasn’t all we brought from that show. The museum also published quite a charming companion publication for children. Now, we’re great fans of this kind of part-educational, part-entertaining materials accompanying exhibitions (hint, hint, we’d love to make some) and are often a little disappointed by their quality and lack of original ideas. But this one is actually what we might expect, with nice design and illustrations, tasks that make sense and even a pleasant kind of paper.

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Alice in Wonderland and the Moomin series are some of these books that you don’t even have to come across in early childhood and you will still enjoy them and then the magic just stays with you forever. They are even not so much about storylines – though we love those too – as about the atmosphere. So finding a combination of both in Tate’s bookstore in the form of Alice illustrated by Tove Jansson left us dumbfounded with delight. Apparently this was originally a Swedish edition then published by Tate in English and Jansson’s illustrating style matches wonderfully the dreamy nature of Carroll’s story. We’ve seen many versions of Alice‘s illustrations and normally we will always pick the classic version by John Tenniel, but this one is definitely worth having. Maybe because it has this nostalgic quality that books from childhood will have for adults.

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And the last book is perhaps the most stunning of all. The High Street by Alice Melvin apparently won some sort of award for best new illustrator and no wonder at all. We also found it in Tate and fell in love with it but when we read it our fascination increased even. It tells a story of a girl gone shopping through an array of old-fashioned little shops, each selling one type of products rather than everything, mall-style. In this it basks in the passing (or maybe returning? that would be awesome) glory of small shops. The illustrating style is lovely in that it combines a bit of theme-becoming old-fashioned-ness with modern clarity. This is exactly what we love, especially seeing as each illustration has a lot of details and you can look at it over and over. But the best part is that the illustrations showing shops can be folded out to reveal the inside of the shop! Now, I’m quite secure in saying that many of you must share our fascination with the inside of buildings that you only see from the outside. As children we loved this kind of drawings and we still do. So, this is a perfect little book, both in idea and execution (it even has a plot twist!), and we encourage you to buy it, should you have a chance (no, no one is paying us for all these recommendations though they may, if they want to).

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We didn’t see as much of London as we had planned but we did visit a whole lot of museum gift stores and today we’ll show you how our collections of pocket pop-up books is growing. We bought the first ones in Paris but Britain has more of them: we found five (to Paris’ three). However, sorry but the French name Petit pop-up panoramique wins with English A Three-Dimensional Expanding Guide. No challenge there.

Still, the illustrations are just as charming (by the same illustrators, mostly) and we were thrilled each time we found a new one in a bookstore. We’re easily amused people.

re-popup-02 We didn’t see a whole lot of royal palaces but we liked the book.

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We did manage to visit Trafalgar Square and Westminster Abbey (the square quite a few times because we went to the National Gallery twice and also you always seem to end up there when you start doing touristy things).

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And of course we’ve already told you about Tate Modern a few times. We enjoyed the bookstore there too.

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We didn’t hope for much from the Tower of London but we were pleasantly surprised: what an entertaining place it actually is. And the ravens were awesome.

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But our favorite was the last find, Shakespeare, which we only discovered at the Globe, where we just dropped in for a few minutes on our last day. One side shows places connected with Shakespeare’s biography but the other one shows scenes from various plays, which is very refreshing after all the architecture of the other volumes. It helps that we’re currently re-reading all of Shakespeare, probably.

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Things are so hectic here these days (or, you know, just exhaustingly, monotonously filled with work, which is not the same as hectic, I guess) that we didn’t even get to show you the books we bought during our recent trips. We bought a lot, especially in London, but for today we only shot catalogs for two amazing exhibitions we saw.

Matisse’s cut-outs in Tate Modern (more info here) is possibly the best exhibition we’ve ever seen or definitely up there with the best. It’s still on till September so if you can make it to London by then, you won’t regret it. It’s emotional, exciting and just freaking great. There is also a huge catalog published for the occasion, which tells you a lot about Matisse’s late years and the process of the cut-outs (we’re assuming; it’s not like we have time for reading or anything) and it has plenty of pictures: everything you see on the exhibition and some more.

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In Warsaw, on the other hand, we saw a more locally known painter, but one of Poland’s best, Aleksander Gierymski, whose impressively comprehensive collection is on show in the National Museum. This exhibition is also accompanied by a large catalog, very professionally assembled, presenting a large collection of his works with such interesting details as the paintings’ background  (and such uninteresting ones as the history of all exhibitions where they were shown; TMI for us but I’m sure it’s useful for someone). We also like the layout of the catalog – it might be a bit too modern for the subject matter, from a puristic point of view, but it’s refreshing and makes the catalog a pretty object to look at.

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Sorry for the missing post this week but we spent most of the weekend building pictures out of twigs and other unconventional materials. It’s all a part of an extremely time-consuming project that will take up a lot of our summer but we can only start showing you results some time in autumn. So please enjoy this highly enigmatic in-work image for now and trust us that if we miss a post it’s not because we’re having any real fun.

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