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This is an Eating a Humble Pie kind of recommendation because when we first watched Shame in a theater, we really failed to connect to it. And then for the longest time we quoted this movie as a prime example of something boring and empty. However, on a whim, we rewatched it recently and wow, did our perception change. We’re properly shamed (sorrynotsorry).

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What is it? A 2011 movie directed by Steve McQueen, starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, tells the story of Brandon, an outwardly successful man fighing his inner demons that manifest in sex addictions. When his sister arrives for a stay the facade of Brandon’s world begins to crumble. But it isn’t really about the plot so much.

Why we love it? Not so much for story reasons as for the artistic choices and, especially, the two stars’ performances. Fassbender, especially, is breathtaking in his humanizing and honest portrayal of Brandon. Alien as his life seems to us, his suffering appears universal.

Visually speaking, this movie uses light, camera angles and interior design in a smart way. The New York of Shame both looks good and repels the viewer with its coldness and emptiness, reflecting Brandon’s inner world (or one layer of it). And (we have to add it), Fassbender is quite uncommonly attractive, too.

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Recently we showed you the family of urban explorers designed to promote the city of Gdynia as a tourist destination. The family has now gained new incarnations and visited new sites of the city in the additional illustrations we created. They are lazing on the beach and staying active by the seaside.

And in the animations created by Esy-Floresy Studio, who invited as to this collaboration, the family explores much more! They see the modernist architecture, train and finally relax. You can see the animations on Esy-Floresy’s YT channel here (this is the first one).

Hope everyone is having a good, relaxing summer!

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This is the family on the beach by the center of the city. The fish monument is one of the characteristic sites of the city. In the background you can see the yacht harbor and one of the modernist buildings that create the landscape of Gdynia.

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Here the family relaxes in Orłowo, a pretty district by the sea, with two well-known attractions in the background: the cliff and the wooden pier.

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This month’s re:commendation comes illustrated as we are sharing a beautiful picture book by Coralie Bickford-Smith, The Song of the Tree. Ms. Bickford-Smith is the incredibly talented designer behind our beloved Penguin Clothbound Classics, many of which decorate our bookshelves (still not as many as we would like). She uses her skill with ornaments here as well to tell a poetic story of a bird, a tree and the tree’s other inhabitants.

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This is a lovely story about growing up and opening up to one’s surroundings. And we are especially awed by the design and illustrative skill exhibited here as well as by the careful attention paid to the print production. The book is printed with three spot colors creating a vivid, yet minimalist color palette. (It is also clothbound.) Each spread is a carefully planned composition, wowing with the level of detail and reminiscent of the work of a printmaking artist. Finally, something both we and our older son enjoyed immensely, the spreads reward the reader for paying close attention: various characters of the story – the different animals inhabiting the tree – appear and reappear throughout the pages. Sometimes you need to look for them more closely, which recreates the excitement of the explorer in a wilderness (or how we imagine it, anyway). This is one of the prettiest books we’ve acquired for a long time.

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Again we had the pleasure of designing an identity for the outdoor film festival Filmowa Stolica Lata (Summer Film Capital), taking place in Warsaw for the 15th time. During the festival people gather in various parts of the city (observing all the anti-Covid regulations this year) to watch classic, cult and some newer movies in nice company and festive atmosphere. This year we chose a chameleon to be the symbol of the event.

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You can also see an animated version by the talented Esy-Floresy studio.

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The amazing Esy-Floresy Animation Studio has invited us to participate in their newest project: a series of promo materials for the city of Gdynia, inviting tourists to come to the city and explore its sights and nature sites. We have designed a family of urban explorers, with further characters (and animations!) to come so stay tuned. Also, we hope everyone is having a great summer so far with  many exciting adventures still planned.

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Happy summer, everyone! To celebrate the turning of the seasons today we’re sharing the book that deals exactly with that: seasons, how they change and what natural and cultural phenomena go with each one of them.

The book is another masterwork by Blexbolex, a French illustrator whose splendid Romance we already shared with you. His work betrays fine arts origins as almost every page would make a wonderful print. The author captures the poetry and magic of changing seasons, not so much with a plot, as in Romance, as with smart, often funny juxtapositions (and masterful drawing). On top of all this goodness there are also impressive printing solutions, using spot colors and great awareness of the possibilities of print which helps achive the richness of the illustrations. Highly recommended!

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Every now and then we like to share with you work of one of the favorite illustrators of our childhood, Jerzy Flisak. After books on manners we continue with one teaching youngsters How to Study. The book itself is an interesting study of the customs of a bygone era (it’s a couple of decades old) – personally we love this aspect of the old advice books, how they record the history of manners. But from the graphic point of view the illustrations are the most exciting part.

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Flisak was great at balancing: concision with detail, realism with humor. This is perhaps what we’ve always found the most charming part of his work. This book is full of lovely examples. (Note: the colors are added by us, originally the illustrations were printed in black.)

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