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In addition to the regular design work, a half of us teaches an introductory course to graphic design in the Academy of Fine Arts. Last year with the students of the then first year we did a project inspired by both the Beatles and the projects Vaughan Oliver did with his students on the Pixies. We did a booklet inspired by the Beatles’ One.

Each student drew a title of one of the songs and was supposed to create a photograph including the title and the time of the song, juxtaposing it with the lyrics. While the lyrics remained unornamented, the photograph had to create a scene whose atmosphere would comment on the song – on its lyrics or particularly on its mood. It was important to show how you can use typography, light and composition to create a mood of a design.

Here you get a chance to see the results and let me tell you, they surprised us with their maturity.

Bernard Kiedrowicz and “Yellow Submarine,” making use of our seaside location and Lego blocks.

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Ula Aksinowicz and “Lady Madonna” made of rose petals and thorns.

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Weronika Płucienniczek and the nostalgia for “Yesterday.”

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Marta Zaparucha and “Eleanor Rigby” in a meditation on old age.

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Aleksandra Bołbot and “Hard Day’s Night.”

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Julia Jaros and the hippie life in “The Ballad of John and Yoko.”

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Katarzyna Cur and the play of light in “Let It Be.”

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Zuzanna Harat and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” made of colorful candy.

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And another take on candy: Nikola Kądziela and “Hello, Goodbye.”

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Marianna Pawłusiów, paper hands and “Help!”

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Natalia Szenborn and “Eight Days a Week” on a wall.

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Magda Bujara’s “All You Need Is Love” among the padlocks on a bridge of love.

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Magda Misztal’s “Hey Jude” in a letter.

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Paulina Zubowicz and “From Me to You” in glitter.

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The cover (the first photo on the top), together with the back cover and the inside spread (below), with a lovely, somewhat surreal use of fake fur by Paulina Wiczanowska.

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Let’s continue looking at pretty books about travels and dreaming about all the travels we’re currently not undertaking. Most of our illustrated guides seem to focus on Europe (and more often than not Paris) but this time how about we jump a continent and explore an entirely different country: the USA with the book The 50 States by Gabrielle Balkan and Sol Linero (here on Amazon).

Each spread shows an illustrated map of a state with local curiosities, characteristic animals, famous people and other goodness. There is plenty of information, sometimes unexpected, on things that happened in each state and things you can see if you’re lucky enough to visit it. There are also key facts, symbols, mottos and, most of all, wonderful pictures of all things connected with the state. We haven’t yet read the whole book (it’s a newish addition) but what we have is actually educational.

Visually, the book manages to combine the modern simplicity of flat illustrations with a bit of whimsy and squeeze quite a lot of text in between. The choice of colors is careful and consistent. And when you think about designing the book you realize inherent difficulties in showing all the states with their different sizes in the same manner – but the authors succeed. It’s a pretty, fun book and it tells you about the world’s biggest ball of stamps and about Bonnie and Clyde festival.

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Alaska…

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…has the best dogs.

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All the state flags together.

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Earlier this year we had the pleasure of designing an annual report for the Historical Museum of Gdańsk. The Museum had recently changed its logo and started looking for a new, unified line of publications so the report became an introduction of new guidelines. The report presents the work and the departments of the Museum and all the important events that took place there in 2016.

Since the new logo (by a Portuguese firm, DO / Design Office) is based on a simple, smart solution of simplifying the crosses from Gdańsk’s crest into a grid of pluses, we followed up on the idea and used a derived grid as the main decorative element. We chose the colors of the logo – dark blue and red – as the leading colors of the design and illustrated the text with large photographs so that the publication became a bit like an album. The Museum has several beautiful old buildings with historical interiors whose photos are naturally lovely, and to emphasize the people of the institution we also chose colorful photos of costumed educators and reenactors.

The cover is embossed with the cross pattern and some of the crosses are laser-cut so that the dark blue from the other side forms a pattern of the year 2016. These choices meant a lot of anxiety for printers (“But there will be no foil on the cover!”) but in the end it turned out great.

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Open report, flap folded.

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Flap unfolded to reveal the laser-cut year and the debossing.

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We used the pluses throughout the report as an ornament.

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Close-up of the cover in all its print glory.

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This week we went for a short work-related trip and caught an exhibition of posters by a Japanese designer Kazumasa Nagai. Nagai, born in 1929, has had a long career full of awards and official positions. In the 1960s and 70s he produced mostly commercial work, steeped in Japanese visual tradition and playing with geometric compositions with a strong op-art value. In the 80s he focused more on posters illustrating animals, with a strong ecological message and he’s been creating them since. His work is created by hand, usually silk-printed and much closer to fine art than to pure design in everyday understanding. We saw a collection of about 100 posters that give a good idea of the artist’s style.

The exhibition was held in an old building in the Old Town so there’s an interesting interplay between the posters and the architecture, particularly the woodwork.

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A lovely poster for the conference on the future of the oceans, combining allusions to traditional Japanese woodcut with a photograph.

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Save me please, I’m here and Design Life series.

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A close-up of one of our favorites that shows a beautiful combination of fine-arts sensitivity with design principles.

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An unexpected poster for a Rouault exhibition.

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From Save Nature series.

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Very Japanese posters with golden color (the photo doesn’t really do them justice).

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A close-up where you can see the silk print texture of paint.

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And our favorite pair of posters, with a strong use of typography combined with  delicate patterns.

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(We only had a very bad camera with us so the photos are of a rather impressionistic variety but you can see Nagai’s work online if this seems interesting to you.)

It’s been (too long) a while since we last shared with you the love for our design idols. Today we want to focus on someone who we’ve been reminded of in a gift shop of Les Arts Décoratifs, where we saw a huge Dior exhibition: Mats Gustafson. His huge impressive book of illustrations for Dior was sold there and it was so pretty (but also large and expensive so we couldn’t buy it, not yet anyway – take a look on Amazon, if you’re interested). But we knew his work before (one of us anyway, the one who loves fashion illustration and thinks no one does it better than Gustafson).

Gustafson is a Swedish illustrator living in New York, with a background in stage design, who introduced into fashion illustration different media: watercolors, cutouts, color papers and uses them in such a unique, beautiful way that his work is instantly recognizable. Fashion illustration generally tends towards pretty but Gustafson makes it sublime, with his minimalist, painterly sensitivity (based on solid skill in drawing). Gushing time over, now look at the pictures (from the artist’s official representative’s site where you can see his newer work now – these works below are from our archives) and fall in love.

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We find patterns a particularly good test of how a style is working for fashion illustration. Test passed.

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Incredible use of paper.

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And a deer. For his personal projects he seems to like drawing animals. And what do you know, he’s great at it.

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With fall so completely upon us it’s nice to think back on holidays and one way to do that is to look at the books we’ve brought with us. As usual, our trip to Paris has resulted in increasing our library of touristy books about Paris. This time let us share a smart little pop-up called, well, Paris Pop Up by Dominique Ehrhard (here‘s a link, should you be interested).

It presents the biggest tourist attractions of the city as 3D models literally rising from the pages of the book as one leafs through it. Each building is situated in its proper place on a fragment of a map and prefaced by a short introduction on the previous spread. All in all, it’s a simple idea quite ingeniously executed and much prettier than most tourist guides.

The intro map with all the attractions and their relative locations.

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An introduction to the Arc de Triomphe.

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And the Arc itself.

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The Louvre.

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The Notre Dame Cathedral rising from its pages in several steps.

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Centre Pompidou (it even has an exhibition poster visible).

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This year the Graphics Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk is celebrating its tenth anniversary with, among other things, an exhibition of works by teachers and graduates. As this is a place we both hail from, our work was also exhibited and yesterday we attended the opening (hence the delay, sorry!). The exhibition was curated by the estimable Anita Wasik and designed by the talented Dorota Terlecka.

We chose to show our Shakespeare Project, which has not had as much exposition as some of our other projects but remains one of the things we’re most proud of, so we are happy to see it out there.

That’s our entire corner. Each artist got to design the large banner and whatever they wanted in front of it (within budget constrictions, of course). We showed a selection of Shakespeares with the identity of the project.

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Hanging those lines was soooo swear-inducing, I tell you. But hey, I did it.

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Of course, our stuff is a great reason to see the exhibition, should you be in the area, but there are other designers, and personal friends, showing their projects, too. Here are some random impressions but there are tons more.

Lettering by Eugenia Tynna.

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Posters by Tomasz Bogusławski.

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T-shirts by Patrycja Podkościelny.

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Bugs by Agata Borkowska.

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Hedgehog pants by Agata Królak. Pants. With hedgehogs!

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Patryk Hardziej.

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A board game by Anna Gawron and Dariusz Ogrodowczyk.

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