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23rd April marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. Two years ago, for the 450th anniversary of his baptism, we have started what has become our Shakespeare Project, whose results we are sharing with you today.

The logo of the project with symbols for genres of Shakespeare’s work

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We were looking into published series of Shakespeare’s plays and how they were designed because we were wondering about buying a nice collection for our library but we didn’t find anything we’d particularly covet. There are a few collections but not exactly what we had in mind. So instead we decided to design a series ourselves.

At first, however, we (re)read all the plays (and sonnets), looking for symbols or motifs that could stand for the entire play. With some of them it was very simple: it’s quite easy to match a skull to Hamlet or a donkey’s head to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With others, though, we had to dig deeper and rely on less obvious associations. In the end we compiled a list of possible symbols for each play (many for some, fewer for others).

A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse! and some other symbols used on the covers

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redesign-shakespeare_project-04The idea was to pick one symbol for each play and use it in a sort of ornament but when we started working, we realized that we wanted to broaden this concept a little: not only did we add additional, smaller icons which are also inspired by the stories, but also for each cover one big icon is changed, illustrating in an almost gif-animation-like style the plot of the play. For instance, the ship on Pericles sinks and the crown of weeds on King Lear falls apart.

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We kept the covers fairly simple and used bright, pure colors to make them more striking – a different combination of three colors for each cover.

We also designed the interior of the books, using one special color in addition to black to mark characters, footnotes and such.

Cover and interior for The Merchant of Venice
Othello: interior and a fragment of cover
The beginning of Two Gentlemen of Verona

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Comedies

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Tragedies and poetry

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Tetralogies of history dramas

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In addition to 38 books we also used the icon designs in a poster which summarizes the project. It presents all the plays divided into genres, together with their dates of composition (after Encyclopaedia Britannica). There are two color versions of the poster, light and dark, depending on how you imagine your Shakespeare because we liked both versions and didn’t want to choose.

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If you are a huge Shakespeare fan or would just like to remember what plays he wrote, you might buy the poster on bza (light/dark) or society6 (light/dark). Additionally, this time we are also selling wall tapestries and throw blankets with this design because it’s just such a cool option.

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This was a challenging but satisfying project. Not only did we refresh (and complete) our knowledge of Shakespeare’s work (and it’s always great when you learn something while working) but also we had to work with a deadline and we managed and so can celebrate the Shakespeare holiday. And obviously, it’s always fun to complete a large project on something you like.

A (long) while ago we started one of our favorite series of just-for-fun designs with 15 posters that condensed TV shows into three icons so that you could guess or not what the given show was. It looked like this:

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and you can find the original post here.

In the meantime we have watched some more TV and designed (for now) three more posters to guess. This time it’s for three real classics and, to be precise, we only watched two of these recently (and we really hope you know us well enough by now to know which we did not spend hours and hours watching, not since we were ten anyway). So, for your guessing pleasure (answers underneath, should you need them):

1.

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2.

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3.

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As with all the previous posters, you can buy your own copy in our stores here and here. We’ll be also adding other things (like phone cases and stuff later).

And here are the answers (even though you probably know by now):

1. Friday Night Lights

2. Baywatch

3. Gilmore Girls

redesign-easter-board-4As promised last week, we want to share a few photos of our Easter card for this year to prove that we make questionable decisions with our time (I mean, we did make all these plasticine eggs and rabbits but we didn’t exactly clean up all the kitchen cupboards for Easter).

This year we decided to honor one of our favorite holiday pastimes, which is boardgames. After designing the board itself we made a list of all the 3D elements we wanted to include and set down to modelling. In the background we played Kiki’s Delivery Service: this is off-topic but we’re always happy to recommend this charming movie.

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A big part of the work was mixing the colors because we only had a very basic set. Luckily, since our work on the surrealist manifesto, we had a lot of white plasticine left and we used it to make prettier, pastel colors. This was a very painterly part of the design.

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Carrots and eggs were fairly easy to make but the real challenge and fun came with shaping the animals.  Of course, we’re particularly proud of the fox.

redesign-easter-rabbits redesign-easter-fox-rabbit redesign-easter-flowers redesign-easter-basketOnce all the elements were ready we arranged them on the board so that there would be a bit of dramatic tension.

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As we try not to be hoarders (which, we find, is a bit of an occupational hazard) we kept the board for a week as an Easter decoration in our living room but then we recycled the elements. This allowed for making this neat infographics illustrating which colors appeared in what amounts. All in all, working in this organic way was extremely refreshing and we only wish we had more opportunities to do this in everyday work.

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re-motivation-02Last week we introduced our project Words Matter, a series of book covers employing tangible type so it’s high time to start sharing the covers. The first one is one of the simplest (and definitely, definitely the easiest and fastest to make) but it’s still one of our favorites because of the simple fact: the letters of the title form a pyramid so well and it illustrates the book so perfectly. When we discovered this we were really excited and the cover almost designed itself.

Abraham Maslow, one of the great in the history of psychology, studied child development and came up with the idea of the hierarchy of needs, which he expressed in 1954 book Motivation and Personality. He illustrated the idea with a neat diagram in the shape of a pyramid. Unlike for other covers we didn’t create the letters: we used ready-made children blocks. We actually bought a whole set of the classic-looking wooden kind, similar to ones we had as children. We really liked the vivid colors and emphasized them with the bright warm yellow background to add to the sense of fun and play.

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As was our plan with all the covers, the selected material and form illustrated the important themes of the book: not only the pyramid itself, but also children and their way of combining fun with education.

As you will see, for all the covers we offset the extravagant tangible type with simple typography used for the name and spine and the logo we described last week. Back covers were not actually a big part of the academic project, just a chance to play some more with the solutions chosen for each cover. For each back we created the WM logo in the same way as we did the title on the front. As you may see, the design of the back cover also includes the space for a blurb but have not written the blurbs, not yet anyway, so for now the backs are fairly minimalistic.

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re-shop-friendsAnd a completely different thing that you might find interesting: it’s another week of free shipping on Society6 so if you wanted to buy a poster, that’s as good a chance as they get. Simply use this link.

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Here goes: we did read Fifty Shades of Grey. We tend to read bestsellers in hope that what made so many people happy will also work for us. Well, it’s sometimes true; sometimes it definitely isn’t. With Fifty Shades we got to be a hit at parties for a little while when we summarized the story to people who had not read it (“No way! You’re making it up, right?”) so there’s that. But, all in all, we don’t really get the popularity of this book.

One thing we found very puzzling was the style of the book and, among other things, how some words would keep reappearing even though they didn’t really fit. Maybe because of our recent work on Friends, we thought how a word-of-the-day toilet paper (the kind that Joey once had) would explain the use of certain words. And once we thought of it, we simply had to reverse engineer this imaginary item and share it with you.

50-words-2-rollWell, we simply had to comment on the phenomenon of Fifty Shades, using the occasion of the world première of the movie. If you count yourselves among the fans, bear with us: I’m sure you hate something we love, too. If you don’t: yep. This book might be a terrifying social experiment. Otherwise, we just don’t get it.

Also, happy Valentine’s!

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The slight delay in posting is not so much due to end-of-year festivities as to the time-consuming nature of the project we’re presenting today.

2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the first episode of Friends and the 10th anniversary of the last one. And yesterday all 10 seasons of the show became available on Netflix (we hear). To celebrate all these momentous occasions we have created a poster with an icon for each of the 236 episodes of Friends. That’s a lot of icons.

poster_friends_wizBut Friends were with us when we were kids and they repeated every episode over and over and we still found them funny, and then we were no longer kids and still re-watched an episode here and there and still found them funny. It was before we got fed up with sitcoms; we loved the characters (well, most of them) and even how they gradually changed: from the crazy 80s hair to their stylish(er) looks and grown-up relationships. We were there for the iconic moments: “We were on a break,” “smelly cat,” “holiday armadillo” all meant something to us. And, you’re very free to disagree, but we always loved Monica and Chandler together.

During the research for this poster we re-watched a lot of bits of the show again and sure, it grows old, but it grows old with surprising grace.

So this is our tribute to Friends. If you like it, you may even buy it here or here. The icons are fairly small in this full version (we particularly don’t recommend buying mini sizes, we just can’t turn them off) so keep reading to see ten additional posters, one for each seasons (with links to buy them).

May the New Year be wonderful for you, full of wacky, hilarious, supportive friends and other good things!

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And here are 10 posters for 10 seasons, as promised.

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).

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