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For the second half of holidays we present a travel-related illustration project. Podróżowniki is a series of award-winning children books that introduce popular travel destinations through a mix of information and activities for kids. The books were designed by Podpunkt studio and we illustrated two of them: the guide to Croatia and to the Tatra and Pieniny Mountains in Poland.

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Since the series was illustrated by several different illustrators, to keep a unified look we needed to follow guidelines: the illustrations are hand-drawn, a little sketchy and black-and-white (the bits of color that do appear were added later during typesetting).

The map of Croatia, with tourist destinations and basic information.

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Animal names in Croatian.

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The inner flaps of the covers have additional materials: a memo game with a selection of illustrations and a board game where you recreate your travels with pawns.

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Sayings from the mountains and a calendar of local holidays (some of which include dancing).

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A reminder not to scare animals in the wild.

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Match ghosts with their dwellings (and other local attractions).

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The things you eat in the mountains.

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Hot therms to relax in (illustrations with a lot of details are the best fun to draw).

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Marten, as the source of Croatian money.

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Janosik, a folk hero.

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I know we often say this, but this project was so much fun to work on! While research-heavy and fairly time-consuming, it was one of the most exciting (and relaxing at the same time) things we did in a while because when you draw actually using your hands, it’s a different kind of energy than the usual, computer-based work..

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TD 63–73 is a book published by Unit Editions who totally specialize in design porn. It tells the story of the golden age of Total Design, a Dutch firm that personifies the greatness of Dutch modernist design. The first edition of the book sold out but we bought a reprinted copy and today we want to share it with you.

We find many of these designs not only inspiring but also quite modern-looking. Their way of thinking about logo design, for instance, while characteristic of past decades, is close to ours (and many others’): its geometric logic is something to aspire to.

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A classic typographic calendar:

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Quite appropriately the book is impressively published with embossing and hotstamping on the cover and the slipcase.

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Many of those design decisions still shape our visual landscape.

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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.

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Yesterday we went to Ikea to search for some unexciting stuff for our bathroom and it took us so long that we didn’t have time to go to the cafeteria. But we were hungry so we dropped by the food store to buy cookies. And boy, was it a great decision.

A few years ago we found online a gorgeous cooking book Ikea published as promo material with cookie recipes and the most beautiful minimalistic photos of food we’d ever seen. You might have seen this one: with all the ingredients arranged in geometric patterns. We ogled the photos and admired the idea but were sure the book was not available as such outside of Sweden. Well, as you have sure figured out by now, this is exactly the book we spotted among Swedish jams and cookies, and quite cheap at that. We pretty much squealed with delight (and I clearly saw two guys looking at us like “ew, crazy people”). Even though we didn’t exactly buy what we’d gone for, the trip was an unquestionable success.

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The book has thirty recipes, each illustrated with the spread with ingredients and one with the finished product. All photos are great but the ones with ingredients are particularly memorable. It had virtually zero impact on our decision to buy the book but the recipes actually look quite inviting too.

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(And yes, we bought the mice starring in the photos for our baby, who’s not big enough for cake or cookies yet.)

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If you’ve been following us for a while you might have noticed that we are huge fans of Marianna Oklejak, an illustrator whose style mixes freshness of children’s drawings and adult humor. Every now and then we share her work and time has come to show you our newest acquisition (well, we got it for Christmas but it still counts as new).

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This is a special book in that Oklejak is for a change not illustrating someone else’s work but doing that whole illustrator-as-author thing. And she’s great at it! She draws inspiration from Polish folk art and reinterprets its motifs.

Polish folk art is quite rich and can be visually exciting. Every region had its motifs, color schemes and ornaments, as well as unique techniques of decorating things. This tradition withered to a large extent when people got more interested in the “modern”, industrial design. Folk art got relegated to decorating tourist souvenirs and became viewed as embarrassing. But it’s been having a sort of renaissance now that many designers, particularly interior designers and such, began to draw inspiration from the traditional motifs in a modern way (which also gets trashy sometimes, but often it works amazingly).

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Oklejak’s book uses folk motifs as elements of her fun compositions but adds an educational element. The spread above simply shows various types of local headgear (and only the one with peacock feathers is at all recognizable these days).

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This awesome spread uses stripes from traditional skirts as elements of a landscape full of fields (which is also a typical Polish landscape so that works great).

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Two different folk dance spreads! Do they play Polish folk? (Hopefully not, it’s not great.)

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Traditional lace tablecloths as autumn clouds.

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And paper doilies as snowflakes.

We’re happy that the book has already won an Ibby award because in addition to the fairly obvious educational value it has so much more: a sort of quirky atmosphere that manages to combine tradition with a more modern feel and to celebrate local identity.

 

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Eli, no! is a delightful little book by Katie Kirk. We found it a long time ago online when it was still waiting to be published and waited impatiently for the book that we could buy. It’s a story of a dog named Eli and all the things he does that make his owners scream the title of the book and it will ring quite true to any dog owners out there.

The book is illustrated in a simple vector style with bold colors and unobtrusive typography, which results in a fun, modern look. But its greatest appeal lies in how each spread reflects an observation of some typical dog behavior – and how well these are translated into the book medium.

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(Is this the Louvre in the background? That would be quite awesome. But it’s certainly an awesome squirrel.)

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The next two are possibly my favorite spreads, one with food, one with letters:

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And a heartwarming conclusion (spoiler, I guess):

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At the end of last year we designed the second volume of recipes from the cooking show Atelier of Taste, a brainchild of Jola Słoma and Mirek Trymbulak (here‘s volume one, by the way; it’s been a while since then). Jola and Mirek are fashion designers and chefs, now cooking only vegan and gluten-free meals, and the have gathered new 108 recipes to share with their viewers.

We couldn’t be happier with the assignment: not only are cookbooks always a fantastic thing to design but also we could go (a little bit) wild with special features and so the book has die-cuts and metallic spot colors.

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The spot color we used for the title page visible through the hole in the cover and for chapter title pages is one of those rarer metallic Pantones of a lovely magenta hue. We chose it because the identity of the show uses purple (and orange; we used mostly orange in the previous book) – and also because it’s quite striking. Since magenta is also used extensively on the show’s set, it appears in most photos and so the whole book gains a unified (purple) look. (All the photos used in the book are from the show’s archive.)

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Playing with special print methods is always fun but, of course, the real challenge in designing a cookbook – and so many other books – is the organization of information. Incidentally, it’s also one of our favorite things ever (because we’re loads of fun to hang out with).

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In addition to the list of ingredients and instructions, each recipe has a short introduction from the authors, time required for preparations, number of resulting portions and nutritional value. We used icons for these sections and, more excitingly, we also designed an icon for each type of dish, such as salad, cake, drink etc. (a total of 19 icons, not all of them quite easy to come up with). We used them by the page numbers and on chapter title pages (and on the contents pages, as shown below).

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Chapter intros consist of two spreads, one with a mosaic of photos and another, purple one with a short introduction. Thanks to the use of the same circular die-cut as on the cover, the two spreads are combined.

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We often say that this or that project was so much fun – and it’s true because we love a lot of things about our job – but few projects are as much fun as this one: a book, with special printing techniques and a whole lot of information to organize (and yes, spiral binding).

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