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The latest annual report for the Museum of Gdańsk is being printed now and we still haven’t shared the previous one (because we’re not great at time-management these days and photographing projects is the last thing on our list, only followed by gardening, I guess). But today we’re correcting this oversight.

The 2017 annual report followed the design line we established the year before with the first report. Graphic ornaments are inspired by the new (then new) logo of the Museum with its pattern of crosses/pluses and the red and dark blue color scheme also comes from the identity so that the report is very much a visual product of the Museum.

It is illustrated with many photos of the events organized by the Museum, with old prints from its collections and with photos of the Museum’s very picturesque buildings. The cover has an etching of the old Town Hall in Gdańsk and a rather fancy ornament which is debossed in some places and hot-stamped with shiny blue foil in others, all of it printed on matte paper, very natural to the touch (unfoiled and unvarnished, which in some ways is the best way to print).

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The very first page (a half-title page without a title?) with a photo of one of the paintings in the Artus Court.

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Statistics.

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Annex about the Museum’s digital strategy.

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Soon(ish) we’ll share the latest volume.

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During one of our recent trips to the library our son, who’s got a good eye for books (mostly, I mean; he gets distracted by popular franchises), picked out this little treasure we’re sharing today: The Egg.

The book is written and illustrated by the wonderfully talented Britta Teckentrup (whose work we didn’t know before) and it tells all (well, a lot) about eggs in a style that manages to be both informative and artistic. J loved all the facts about different kinds of eggs, particularly the really large ones. We loved the art, its combination of minimalism and humanism (not an easy thing to pull off). Together we had quite a few fun evenings with the book before the time came to return it.

“Egg collections.” Throughout the book the use of texture and color is marvelous.

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“Egg colors”

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“Inside the egg.” This gave J a pause.

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Size comparison.

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The biggest egg ever. J loved this fact.

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There’s an interesting section on nests.

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A section on eggs not laid by birds.

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And one about the meaning of an egg in art and religion. While J leans towards natural facts, we enjoy the cultural angle.

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What are your favorite lucky finds from the library?

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We are swamped and can’t properly finish this post but we wanted to share a sneak peek this week. This is a cover of the previous annual report of the Museum of Gdańsk, with embossed and hotstamped crosses. The image used on the cover is a beautiful old engraving showing the main street in the old town in Gdańsk, including two buildings now managed by the Museum: the Artus Court and the Town Hall.

Proper presentation to come!

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Last week died Bohdan Butenko, one of the great Polish illustrators. His work was truly unique. It was one of the staples of our childhood reading experience because he created and illustrated so many books (allegedly over 200). The Polish People’s Republic was not a great time in Polish history in many ways but the talented illustrators who worked then certainly made it a little brighter, Butenko being one of the most joyful of them.

His style is very easy to spot, with several characteristic features:

  1. Simplicity. The simplicity is often deceptive because frequently finding the kind of shortcut he was so good at is the hardest thing to do. But his drawings are certainly recognizable by the scarcity of details. (It is also tempting to try to copy this if you’re the kind of kid who spends their days with crayons and pencils.)
  2. Bold lines. His drawings were always executed in thick, black lines which enclosed the forms.
  3. Flat colors. He often created in black and white but when he used colors, he did it confidently.
  4. Humor. One of the most endearing qualities of his work, he always tried to make the subject matter funny and lighthearted.
  5. Text interpretation. Rather than drawing literally what the text said, Butenko usually added a little story to it in his illustration, often making it funnier.
  6. Hand-written words. He had a nice way with letters, too. He often used comic book balloons and combinations of various lettering styles (always pretty simple, though).
  7. Good sense for layout. He wasn’t the kind of illustrator who leaves the picture for someone else to fit into the text. Instead, he often designed the whole arrangement of the elements on the page, usually drawing inspiration from comic books. Some of our favorite of his books include layout design which sort of comicsifies the text. (Not a word, I know.)

We have photographed Butenko books from our collection to illustrates the points above but mainly to share his work with you and maybe to inspire you to dig further.

This is our childhood fave, Butenko’s interpretation of classic children’s poems by Jan Brzechwa. He takes the already fun poems and makes them so much more exciting, particularly by turning them into a sort of comic but also by his visual interpretation of some of the stories.

Title page. (The cover went missing many years back.)

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“How to Talk to a Dog”

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“Ram” and “A Hole in the Bridge”

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Sometimes Butenko illustrated for adults, too, This is his version of Philip Zimbardo’s classic on shyness, with the humorous illustrations making the theme much lighter. A hand-written cover is also a Butenko thing.

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“Get a very becoming haircut…”

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A children’s book about two cars dancing together. Pretty much a comic. (A favorite from my brother’s childhood, he was always into cars.)

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A book on geometry for children, notice how Butenko handles the page layouts.

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An interpretation of Kipling’s story about the domestication of a cat. This is a little bizarre but very interesting in its combination of the slightly somber, old-fashioned fairy tale with Butenko’s visual wit and energy. Also, the pagination is awesome.

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This is an example of his work for small children, telling stories without words through one of the classic characters he invented.

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And one more Brzechwa poem, this time laid out into an entire cardboard book.

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This is his work for older children, with black and white illustrations, a sort of action adventure tale.

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“…international bandits…”

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Do you have a favorite Butenko book? Or a favorite childhood illustrator?

 

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Yesterday we went for a walk in the woods, fooled by beautiful autumn weather. When we were entering the woods, a few drops of rain fell but we looked up and only saw an innocent little cloud so we decided to carry on. Of course, when we were in the middle of our walk, the rain started pouring and we got soaked through. Still, a fun walk. (Also, we were occupied with parenting duties all through the weekend hence this shortened post.)

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Those of you who’ve been with us for a while will have seen this project but we’re reposting both for the new guests and because of the special occasion: the 25th anniversary of the first emission of Friends, which remains just about the most popular TV show in TV history (we go by impression, not data, here).

For us the show was certainly an important one (well, for one of us; the other one only watched it much later). We celebrated 20 years of Friends with a poster in which we designed an icon for each episode: that was a lot of icon-designing and a lot of Friends-watching and both of those things were so much fun.

poster_friends_wizIf you like the poster, it’s available for sale here.

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And for those who only like a particular season or would like all the seasons separately so that they can cover the entire wall with bigger Friends icons, we also made 10 posters for 10 seasons.

friends-20-redesign-season01Season 1: The One Where They Get a Monkey, a Fussball Table and Rachel (buy here).

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Season 2: The One Where Joey Moves Out and Back In (buy here).

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Season 3: The One with All the Drama with Ross and Rachel (buy here).

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Season 4: The One That Ends in London (buy here).

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Season 5: The One with Monica and Chandler’s Secret (buy here).

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Season 6: The One Where Monica and Chandler Get Engaged (buy here).

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Season 7: The One Where Monica and Chandler Get Married (buy here).

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Season 8: The One with Rachel’s Pregnancy (buy here).

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Season 9: The One Largely about Babies (buy here).

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Season 10: The Last One Where They All Become Adults (Except for Joey) (buy here; all posters can also be bought here).

Original post with a bit more of our Friends story and sentiments here. (And yes, we’re Monica and Chandler fans.)

And on an unrelated note: did you know there’s a Friends Lego set? You probably did. It seems quite fun.