Strangely familiar – the type of Stranger Things

Like most of us at studio Nelson Cash, you’ve probably heard about Netflix’s latest cult show Stranger Things from your best friend or work buddy.

And if you’re like me, you innocently pushed play on a work night and by midnight realised the scene in your living room was looking a lot like that one Portlandia skit.

Yes, the show is really that good. But what got me? Besides brilliant character development, a killer score, and all those warm and fuzzy nods to my youth?

These 52 seconds:

As a person who spends her days trying to effectively communicate with people through design, I recognised another star on the screen: that typography, tho.

GWylEE2h_400x400

The Stranger Things title sequence is pure, unadulterated typographic porn. With television shows opting for more elaborate title sequences (think GOT and True Detective), the opening of Stranger Things is refreshingly simple. It trims the fat and shows only what is necessary to set the mood.

More importantly, it proves a lesson I’ve learned time and time again as a designer: you can do a lot with type.

But how do a few pans of a logo accomplish so much in such a short amount of time? I break down its typographic success to three powerful plays: recognition, scale and palette.

Recognition

The Stranger Things logo probably looks strangely familiar, taking you back to an era when Stephen King reigned supreme.

The show’s creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, directly cite King as the inspiration behind the show’s logo, having sent copies of King’s novels to Imaginary Forces, the creative studio behind the title sequence.

Stephen King novel covers, the inspiration behind the Stranger Things logo
Stephen King novel covers, the inspiration behind the Stranger Things logo

Immediately recognisable to anyone that lived through the 80s, those covers bring chills to your spine.

Using a modified version of the distinctive typeface Benguiat, the Stranger Things logo respectfully and effectively plays on that recognition in the title sequence, setting the mood for what is to follow.

Scale 

Glowing red lines enter the frame. One might think they’re simple shapes at first, but soon you realise it’s a close up of the joint of N, the arc of R, the spine of S.

They’re so close you can make out individual specks of film grain. Gets your heart going a bit, amiright?

An extreme close up of the joint of N
An extreme close up of the joint of N

An extreme close up is a cinematic technique that when used sparingly and with intent can invoke intense emotion from the viewer. By getting up close and personal, the viewer reaches a new level of intimacy with the scene.

This intimacy causes the viewer to become vulnerable, and vulnerability elicits a deeper emotion – in this case, unease or even fear.

Palette

Finding the right combination of typefaces can be tiresome. Although there are no rules, there are some techniques designers use to guide us through the process.

Using some of these techniques, the pairing of decorative serif Benguiat and geometric sans serif Avant Garde builds a typographic palette that effectively sets the tone for the show.

Decorative serif Benguiat was smartly paired with geometric sans serif Avant Garde
Decorative serif Benguiat was smartly paired with geometric sans serif Avant Garde

What particularly interests me about the two typefaces is their historical alliance.

Each was designed by typographic heroes and old pals, Ed Benguiat (Benguiat) and Herb Lubalin (Avant Garde). Each was released by ITC in the 1970s. And each was inspired by distinct art movements of the early twentieth century  –  Benguiat by Art Nouveau and Avant Garde by Bauhaus.

The 1980s revived retro typography from various art periods in a way that brought new meaning to their use.

By using them again in 2016, as the Stranger Things team did so brilliantly, we are reminded of the historical power of typography, the transcendental property of design, and the nostalgia that lives forever in our hearts.

Note: I have since binge-watched the rest of the season. Bravo to the geniuses involved in the production of the show, with a special callout to the insanely talented team at Imaginary Forces. Credit for images used throughout this article goes to designer and animator Eric Demeusy.

Sarah Gless is a designer at Nelson Cash in Chicago, nelsoncash.com. This article originally appeared on blog.nelsoncash.com and is republished with permission.

Pes turns his magic on Honda’s trucks

We have become used to seeing charming films from Pes, but normally his skill operates on a small scale: the director is known for his skill in turning everyday objects such as socks or the change in our pockets into incredible, spellbinding characters (Rubik’s Cube spaghetti, anyone?).

His previous film for Honda was epic, but mainly in terms of its craft: he told the brand’s story through thousands of original drawings, all animated together. Here he has gone large, however, creating a film that uses a technique that Pes describes as “long-exposure stop motion”, which combines animation and live action to achieve a “more artfully composed version of traditional time-lapse”. It was also filmed on sets all built to scale so it could be shot in-camera. Impressive.

Pes Honda ad still

Pes Honda ad still

Pes Honda ad still

Credits:
Agency: RPA
CCO: Joe Baratelli
ECD: Jason Sperling
Creative directors: Sarah Bates, Rahul Panchal
Creatives: Suzie Yeranosyan, Romero Ramirez
Production company: Reset Content (Pes is repped by Blinkink in London)
Director: Pes
Editorial: Union Editorial
VFX: A52

Gradwatch: Kate Sturney

CR: What lead you to study photography?

KS: Photography is a great format of expressing emotion through visual materials. After doing a shoot, i feel somewhat proud of the idea that what may be seen in one person’s eyes, could mean something the complete opposite in another. Part of the beauty in photography is the endless interpretations taken from it, one of the reasons why i love to study this subject.
Photograph by Kate Sturney
Photograph by Kate Sturney
CR: What’s the craziest thing you had to do when taking a photograph?  
KS: I’ve had many near death experiences from lying in the middle of the road to standing on the top of high buildings. The craziest time was when I spotted the most amazing shadow falling diagonally across a mechanic’s garage. He was in there fixing a car with a customer, I looked at my model and she gave me ‘the nod’ so i politely asked him if he could stop his work for me to use the location as a backdrop for my picture. We had all the mechanics and it’s customers staring at us whilst me and my model did our own thing to get the shot. Sometime you’ve just got to go out of your way and everyone else’s to get the best!
Photograph by Kate Sturney
Photograph by Kate Sturney
CR: Has any photographer or artist in particular influenced your style of work?
KS: During a lot of my university studies, Viviane Sassen played a vital part influencing my work. I analysed her work in every aspect and took a leap from photographing straight-forward, still posture and explored more movement and life in my pictures. I think I will always have a bit of Sassen in the back of my mind when I am photographing, she encouraged me to push my ideas, where i came to establish the new series of my work ‘I AM’ which explores the movement in finding and loosing yourself.
Photograph by Kate Sturney
Photograph by Kate Sturney
CR: What’s keeping you busy now that you have graduated?  
KS: I’m working a lot now – student loans and overdraft seem to have taken their toll on my bank balance! In the meantime, I’m using this time after graduating to ground myself. I’ve got some up and coming projects with clothing line’s in Cardiff which I am excited about, I love collaborating with young people and new brands because there are always fresh ideas floating around.
Photograph by Kate Sturney
Photograph by Kate Sturney
CR: Your dream project, what would it be?
KS: I think my dream project would be something to do with colour. I have an obsession with colours either clashing or everything in one image being the same colour. I imagine photographing a male model surrounded by nothing but pink…pink furniture, pink walls, pink fashion…the lot! I love working with current problems in society and putting to the test how uncomfortable things can be on the eye. The idea of a masculine body in it’s most feminine form sounds like it could stir up an opinion or two!!
Kate talentspotting
Kate Sturney’s photograph that was part of our 2016 Talentspotting initiative
kate

Sturney is one of the 11 graduates whose work has been selected by us to appear on JCDecaux digital screens all over the UK, including at major railway stations, shopping centres and roadways as a part of CR’s Talentspotting scheme. 

katesturney.com

New film documents first-ever Refugee Olympic Team and asks audiences to stand together #WithRefugees

The Refugee Olympic Team features ten athletes, chosen from a shortlist of 43 that were identified at refugee camps in Africa and Europe. It includes two Syrian swimmers – Rami Anis and Yusra Mardini; South Sudanese runners Yiech Pur Biel (800m), James Nyang Chiengjiek (400m), Anjelina Nada Lohalith (1,500m), Rose Nathike Lokonyen (800m), and Paulo Amotun Lokoro (1,500m); Ethiopian marathon runner Yonas Kinde; and judo players Yolande Mabika and Popole Misenga, both from Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As the film below explains, all are “champions against all odds” having fled violence and devastation in their home countries before then training to compete in the Olympics.

Film about Olympics Refugee Team 2016

Film about Olympics Refugee Team 2016

Film about Olympics Refugee Team 2016

The film acts as a trailer for a long-form documentary about the refugee team that will be completed after the Games have taken place. It is a co-production between Just So and Grey London and is backed by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. The hope is that the team’s participation in the Olympics will also help raise understanding of the plight of the 65.3 million people who are currently displaced around the world due to persecution, conflict, generalised violence or human rights violations.

“These ten remarkable athletes embody the determination and resilience of the many millions of people fleeing conflict and persecution worldwide,” said Melissa Fleming, UNHCR’s head of communications and public information. “They remind us that refugees are people just like you and me, people who want to achieve their full potential against all odds.”

The UNHCR is urging those inspired by the film and the Refugee Olympic Team to pledge support at withrefugees.org.

World Illustration Awards 2016 winners announced

The awards, presented by the Association of Illustrators in partnership with California’s Directory of Illustration and Somerset House, mark the 40th anniversary of the AOI’s annual celebration of the industry’s best work.

Illustrators from South Korea won both the overall Professional and New Talent Awards, with the top awards going to Jimin Kim (below) and Jungho Lee (above), respectively. The pair also headed up the work in the Books category.

According to the AOI, Lee’s winning project was a hand-drawn book illustration made using graphite and charcoal (a commission for Sang Publishing), while Kim’s Hyde & Seek picture book explored the theme of ‘alter egos’ in the form of a series of black and white etchings (the reader can create different compositions from the sections).

BOOKS NEW TALENT CATEGORY WINNER: Jimin Kim – Hyde & Seek
Top of post: BOOKS PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY WINNER: / OVERALL WINNER PRO: Jungho Lee – Promenade. Above: BOOKS NEW TALENT CATEGORY WINNER: Jimin Kim – Hyde & Seek
SELF INITIATED PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY WINNER: Eunjoo Lee – Utopia
SELF INITIATED PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY WINNER: Eunjoo Lee – Utopia

“I get the impression that the participants are interested in expressive technique to showcase their style,” said Books category judge, Daehyun Kim. “Jungho Lee’s picture book is distinguished not just because of his outstanding technique, but great imagination. I think this is why the jury chose his book as the overall winner.

“I really enjoyed Jimin Kim’s little book,” judge Kim added. “I wanted to peek through the little holes to discover fractions of personality. The title, the story, and the cut-out technique are just in perfect harmony. I’m so proud of the result of the competition!”

ADVERTISING PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY WINNER: Forge & Marrow – Medecine Grown From Science
ADVERTISING PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY WINNER: Forge & Marrow – Medicine Grown From
Science
ADVERTISING NEW TALENT CATEGORY WINNER: Julinu – Maia’s Morning Malaise
ADVERTISING NEW TALENT CATEGORY WINNER: Julinu – Maia’s Morning Malaise

This year’s winning work – over 50 projects – will be shown at an exhibition held at Somerset House’s Embankment East Galleries from August 1-29 (entry is free). It will then tour the UK throughout 2016-17.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Overall Winner New Talent: Jimin Kim
Overall Winner Professional: Jungho Lee
Winner – Advertising New Talent: Julinu
Winner – Advertising Professional: Forge & Morrow
Winner – Books New Talent: Jimin Kim
Winner – Books Professional: Jungho Lee
Winner – Children’s Books New Talent: Ami Shin
Winner – Children’s Books Professional: Alex T. Smith
Winner – Design Professional: Ella Cohen
Winner – Design New Talent: Thoka Maer
Winner – Editorial New Talent: Nancy Liang
Winner – Editorial Professional: Matt Huynh
Winner – Public Realm Professional: Brian Gallagher
Winner – Public Realm Professional: Diego Becas Villegas
Winner – Research & Knowledge Communication New Talent: Eun Jung Bahng
Winner – Research & Knowledge Communication Professional: Florian Bayer
Winner – Self Initiated New Talent: Eunjoo Lee
Winner – Self Initiated Professional: Gigi Rose Gray

More at theaoi.com

PUBLIC REALM PROFESSIONAL CATERGORY WINNER #2: Brian Gallagher – Cromford Mills / Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Gateway Centre
PUBLIC REALM PROFESSIONAL CATERGORY WINNER #2: Brian Gallagher – Cromford Mills / Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Gateway Centre
PUBLIC REALM PROFESSIONAL CATERGORY WINNER #1: Diego Becas Villegas – Nicanor Parra - 100 Years
PUBLIC REALM PROFESSIONAL CATERGORY WINNER #1: Diego Becas Villegas – Nicanor Parra – 100 Years
RESEARCH AND KNOWLEDGE PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY WINNER: Florian Bayer – African Governance Architecture
RESEARCH AND KNOWLEDGE PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY WINNER: Florian Bayer – African Governance Architecture

World Illustration Awards 2016 winners announced

The awards, presented by the Association of Illustrators in partnership with California’s Directory of Illustration and Somerset House, mark the 40th anniversary of the AOI’s annual celebration of the industry’s best work.

Illustrators from South Korea won both the overall Professional and New Talent Awards, with the top awards going to Jimin Kim (below) and Jungho Lee (above), respectively. The pair also headed up the work in the Books category.

According to the AOI, Lee’s winning project was a hand-drawn book illustration made using graphite and charcoal (a commission for Sang Publishing), while Kim’s Hyde & Seek picture book explored the theme of ‘alter egos’ in the form of a series of black and white etchings (the reader can create different compositions from the sections).

BOOKS NEW TALENT CATEGORY WINNER: Jimin Kim – Hyde & Seek
Top of post: BOOKS PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY WINNER: / OVERALL WINNER PRO: Jungho Lee – Promenade. Above: BOOKS NEW TALENT CATEGORY WINNER: Jimin Kim – Hyde & Seek
SELF INITIATED PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY WINNER: Eunjoo Lee – Utopia
SELF INITIATED PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY WINNER: Eunjoo Lee – Utopia

“I get the impression that the participants are interested in expressive technique to showcase their style,” said Books category judge, Daehyun Kim. “Jungho Lee’s picture book is distinguished not just because of his outstanding technique, but great imagination. I think this is why the jury chose his book as the overall winner.

“I really enjoyed Jimin Kim’s little book,” judge Kim added. “I wanted to peek through the little holes to discover fractions of personality. The title, the story, and the cut-out technique are just in perfect harmony. I’m so proud of the result of the competition!”

ADVERTISING PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY WINNER: Forge & Marrow – Medecine Grown From Science
ADVERTISING PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY WINNER: Forge & Marrow – Medicine Grown From
Science
ADVERTISING NEW TALENT CATEGORY WINNER: Julinu – Maia’s Morning Malaise
ADVERTISING NEW TALENT CATEGORY WINNER: Julinu – Maia’s Morning Malaise

This year’s winning work – over 50 projects – will be shown at an exhibition held at Somerset House’s Embankment East Galleries from August 1-29 (entry is free). It will then tour the UK throughout 2016-17.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Overall Winner New Talent: Jimin Kim
Overall Winner Professional: Jungho Lee
Winner – Advertising New Talent: Julinu
Winner – Advertising Professional: Forge & Morrow
Winner – Books New Talent: Jimin Kim
Winner – Books Professional: Jungho Lee
Winner – Children’s Books New Talent: Ami Shin
Winner – Children’s Books Professional: Alex T. Smith
Winner – Design Professional: Ella Cohen
Winner – Design New Talent: Thoka Maer
Winner – Editorial New Talent: Nancy Liang
Winner – Editorial Professional: Matt Huynh
Winner – Public Realm Professional: Brian Gallagher
Winner – Public Realm Professional: Diego Becas Villegas
Winner – Research & Knowledge Communication New Talent: Eun Jung Bahng
Winner – Research & Knowledge Communication Professional: Florian Bayer
Winner – Self Initiated New Talent: Eunjoo Lee
Winner – Self Initiated Professional: Gigi Rose Gray

More at theaoi.com

PUBLIC REALM PROFESSIONAL CATERGORY WINNER #2: Brian Gallagher – Cromford Mills / Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Gateway Centre
PUBLIC REALM PROFESSIONAL CATERGORY WINNER #2: Brian Gallagher – Cromford Mills / Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Gateway Centre
PUBLIC REALM PROFESSIONAL CATERGORY WINNER #1: Diego Becas Villegas – Nicanor Parra - 100 Years
PUBLIC REALM PROFESSIONAL CATERGORY WINNER #1: Diego Becas Villegas – Nicanor Parra – 100 Years
RESEARCH AND KNOWLEDGE PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY WINNER: Florian Bayer – African Governance Architecture
RESEARCH AND KNOWLEDGE PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY WINNER: Florian Bayer – African Governance Architecture

Restricted Areas – Danila Tkachenko’s photographs of Soviet ruins

According to the Foundation, the wider season of exhibitions and events intends to focus “on utopian public space and the quest for new national identities across the post-Soviet world”.

Along with Tkachenko’s images of deserted structures left to weather ice and snow, Dead Space and Ruins features the work of three other artists working within photography and film who have also been capturing the decaying architecture of the former Soviet Union: Vahram Agasian, Anton Ginzburg and Eric Lusito.

Danila Takatchenko, 12. The world's largest diesel submarine, 2015, from the Restricted Areas series, Courtesy of the artist-CRsite
Danila Tkachenko. Top of post: Deserted observatory; Above: The world’s largest diesel submarine
Danila Tkatchenko, 23. Sarcophagus over a closed shaft which is 4 km deep – was one of the deepest scientific shafts in the world at the time, 2015, from the Restricted Areas series, Courtesy of the artist-CRsite
Danila Tkachenko. Sarcophagus over a closed shaft which is 4km deep – it was one of the deepest scientific shafts in the world at the time
Danila Tkatchenko, 31. Monument to the Conquerors of Space. The rocket on top was made according to the design of German V-2 missile, 2015, from the Restricted Areas series, Courtesy of the artist-CRsite
Danila Tkachenko. Monument to the Conquerors of Space. The rocket on top was made according to the design of German V-2 missile

Tkachenko’s project examines the “utopian strive of humans for technological progress,” he says, and involved visiting long-forgotten, deserted sites across the country. It includes memorials and monuments, observatories, disused aircraft and numerous abandoned buildings (the full series is here).

Power and Architecture is the Calvert 22 Foundation’s second seasonal programme this year and is curated by Programme Manager Will Strong and Creative Director Ekow Eshun. The aim of the series, say the Foundation, is “to explore the design of the built environment and its use as a device of influence, both physically characterising the skyline, and psychologically in relation to the people who live in its shadow”.

Danila Tkachenko, 33. Memorial on a deserted nuclear station. Russia, Voronezh region, 2015, from the Restricted Areas series, Courtesy of the artist-CRsite
Danila Tkachenko. Memorial on a deserted nuclear station
Danila Tkatchenko, 9. Water contamination test at the lake around the previously closed scientific city Chelyabinsk. In 1964 there was the first nuclear catastrophe, equal in scale to Chernobyl-CRsite
Danila Tkachenko. Water contamination test at the lake around the previously closed scientific city Chelyabinsk-40. In 1964 there was the first nuclear catastrophe, one of the largest in history and equal in scale to Chernobyl, but it stayed secret. The city is surrounded by the lakes which are until now contaminated with radiation
Danila Tkatchenko, 18. Headquarters of Communist Party. Bulgaria, Yugoiztochen region, 2015, from the Restricted Areas series, Courtesy of the artist-CRsite
Danila Tkachenko. Monument of the Bulgarian Communist Party

More of Danila Tkachenko’s work is at danilatkachenko.com. Dead Space and Ruins, part two of the Power and Architecture programme, is at the Calvert 22 Foundation until August 7 (the programme runs until October 9), 22 Calvert Avenue, London E2 7JP. (Free entry, Wednesday – Sunday, 12pm – 6pm). Part three is entitled Citizen Activated Space – Museum of Skateboarding and opens on August 11. According to the Calvert 22 Foundation, “the installation by Russian artist Kirill Savchenkov explores the individual’s participation in the activation of public space through skateboarding”. See calvert22.org

Danila Takatchenko, 1. Airplane – amphibia with vertical take-off VVA14. The USSR built only two of them in 1976, one of which has crashed during transportation, 2015, from the Restricted Areas series, Courtesy of the artist. jpg-CRsite
Danila Tkachenko. Airplane – amphibia with vertical take-off VVA14. The USSR built only two of them in 1976, one of which has crashed during transportation
Danila Takatchenko, 2. Former residential buildings in a deserted polar scientific town specialised on biological research, 2015, from the Restricted Areas series, Courtesy of the artist-CRsite
Danila Tkachenko. Former residential buildings in a deserted polar scientific town specialised on biological research

Enough of the ‘blah blah blah’ says Adidas in new ad campaign

Last year saw Adidas take on the ‘haters’ on social media in a spot starring, amongst others, football’s favourite chomper Luis Suárez. Now the brand takes aim at all the general ‘blah blah blah’ around the game in a lively new spot featuring stars including Paul Pogba, Manuel Neuer, Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Diego Costa and Miralem Pjanic, as well as managers Zinedine Zidane and Jose Mourinho. Watch it below:

Adidas First Never Follows Blah Blah Blah ad

Adidas First Never Follows Blah Blah Blah ad

Adidas First Never Follows Blah Blah Blah ad

The spot is the latest in Adidas’ First Never Follows campaign (a strapline that might benefit from a visit to Nick Asbury’s Brand Line Surgery) and is a slick and entertaining romp.

Its cheeky tone and mix of live action with animation does bring to mind Nike’s style, however – perhaps showing the influence of 72andSunny ECD Stuart Harkness, who previously wrote Nike’s epic Write The Future spot, on the work?

Credits:
Agency: 72andSunny Amsterdam
ECDs: Carlo Cavallone, Stuart Harkness
Creative directors: Simon Schmitt, Emiliano Trierveiler
Creatives: Damian Isaak, Jorgen Sibbern, David Troquier, Nacho Guijarro
Production company: Somesuch
Director: Rollo Jackson
Visual effects: Machine Molle
Editorial company: Whitehouse London
Post: Electric Theater Collective London
Audio Post: Wave Studios

Dove calls out the media over sexism towards female athletes in latest campaign

The ad is the latest iteration of Dove’s #MyBeautyMySay campaign, where real women articulate their irritations about the narrow definitions of beauty in mainstream media.

In this new version, focused on female athletes, digital billboards in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto are live streaming the kind of beauty-orientated comments, often negative, that the media focuses on when discussing female sports stars. Viewers are then encouraged to visit a ‘hub’ online where they can complain to the media outlets in question using pre-scripted tweets that feature the campaign’s hashtag. The campaign is backed by US gymnast Shawn Johnson, who is acting as a spokesperson for Dove.

Film promoting the campaign

Image from Dove's website, illustrating some of the media quotes targeted by the campaign
Image from Dove’s website, illustrating some of the media quotes targeted by the campaign

It is hard to knock Dove’s intention with this campaign, which fits into a long history of ads from the brand aimed at encouraging female empowerment. And in taking aim at the media – rather than individual social media users, for example – it has a worthy target. After all, many individuals take their lead from news outlets: if it is seen as okay to report on women in these terms there, then others will assume it is also OK to engage in casual sexism too.

And yet, I can’t help feeling slightly discomforted by the idea of seeing these negative slogans writ large on billboards, in the service of advertising commercial products, even if the intention is a worthy one. Is there a risk that people will just laugh at comments such as ‘huge nipples’ and miss the more complex message behind them?

It cuts to the heart of the difficulty of brands engaging in advocacy while also flogging their wares. Whereas sites such as Everyday Sexism invite individuals to call out instances of casual (and sometimes not-at-all casual) abuse, Dove doing it on everyone’s behalf cloys slightly.

From Dove #MyBeautyMySay website
From Dove #MyBeautyMySay website
Example response tweet from the #MyBeautyMySay website
Example response tweet from the #MyBeautyMySay website

Brands are increasingly recognising the commercial benefit of being seen to do ‘good’ within society. We are getting used to these kinds of campaigns now and are perhaps therefore in more of a position to critique their value. Are they just another kind of slogan, or can they really generate change?

The large platform advertising has means brands can reach a lot of people with their messaging, but there is a risk that the cultural change they are (supposedly) trying to implement can get confused with their own slogans and messages, ultimately undermining the cause. For example, by saying #MyBeautyMySay, Dove isn’t really moving the conversation for female athletes away from an emphasis on looks, it is merely trying to reframe it, in a way that suits the brand and its general advertising.

So while I salute Dove for making a worthwhile point, and drawing attention to an issue that will no doubt become more prevalent over the next few weeks as the Rio Olympics take place, I rather wish the conversation could have taken place outside of the context of ‘beauty’ at all, and certainly without a chirpy brand hashtag. But then, of course, it wouldn’t be advertising.

Disegno founder Johanna Agerman Ross on launching a magazine

So you want to publish a magazine? is packed with useful advice for aspiring publishers. The book is divided into ten chapters covering every aspect of launching a new title, from developing an initial concept to working with advertisers, printers and distributors. Each chapter contains brief case studies on successful magazines and interviews with industry experts, including Monocle founder Tyler Brûlé and The Gentlewoman’s editor-in-chief Penny Martin.

Throughout this month, we’ll be publishing extracts from some of the interviews featured in the book – here, Angharad Lewis talks to Johanna Agerman Ross, who founded design journal Disegno in 2011…

Something of a rarity in the world of independent publishing, Disegno achieved early commercial success to the extent of paying for its own office and full-time staff of eight within three years, writes Angharad Lewis. It operates as part of a small two-magazine publishing venture and creative studio, Tack Press. Here, Agerman Ross reveals how meticulous planning, foresight about publishing trends and sympathetic appreciation for commercial partners have built a rock-solid base for her magazine business.

Disegno3_Cover-copy_WEB
Issue 3 of Disegno. Cover image by Ola Bergengren

What’s the publishing model for Disegno?

I can’t claim that it’s in any way revolutionary, because it’s supported by advertising, but I guess what I wanted to do differently was inspired by what I saw in the fashion biannual. There was a hunger from luxury brands to place their ads in nice-looking magazines twice a year. I didn’t feel the design magazine market had really clocked that.

I had been frustrated, in my previous role at Icon, that, editorially, fashion was a sideline. I always wanted it to be an equal part of looking at design. I saw Disegno as a chance for a more in-depth take on fashion writing.

In terms of business, I saw a niche. Just in 2014, three new design biannuals launched, so I guess Disegno has shown the way somehow. None are published by big publishing houses – all are independent – but it’s interesting that we have set a format that has been looked at by other people.

How did you fund the launch of Disegno?

The funding was made up of my own savings and a personal loan from a friend from my schooldays, whom I paid back after a year. But I also worked really hard on paper and print sponsorship, and I asked contributors to write and photograph for free in exchange for getting them to places – I paid for the trips to cover the stories I wanted in the magazine

D5_Cover-copy_WEB
Disegno No.5. Cover image by Giles Prince, from a cover story on the Kumbh Mela, a religious pilgrimage in India

What part does your online platform, Disegno Daily, play in your publishing?

I decided that if we did a biannual, there would be more opportunity to build a website and keep that as a talking point, a place for discussion and for keeping up to date with things. I always felt that the website and magazine had to be connected. Another thing I added to the model was the events series. We have been doing talks and film screenings and tours, all kinds of things – trying to be inventive. I felt if I started something new I wouldn’t want to do the magazine first and then build the other things around it. It was important to do everything at the same time, otherwise you get into a routine. A magazine is a time-consuming thing, so you could find yourself asking ‘How am I ever possibly going to add anything more to it?’ I thought, if you start as you intend to go on and perfect everything later, that’s a good way of doing it. I remember the first document I wrote in Autumn 2010 (we launched in Autumn 2011) set out three focuses: not just fashion, design and architecture, but the three elements – live format, printed format, online format. They have been there from the beginning.

Was the advertising side of the business difficult to get going, and has it changed?

The relationship with advertisers has to be constantly massaged, entertained and looked after. There’s an age-old dilemma: a lot of magazines feel that if they carry advertising they have to pander to the advertisers to some degree. That’s something we’ve been very careful not to do as a magazine. We have our editorial stance and we see that as quite separate, and advertising is something that complements our content. I have always seen advertising as a valuable part of the magazine because I personally think it’s nice to look at advertising in a magazine, if it’s well done. Sadly, this is where the design industry is very far behind the fashion industry, where they invest significant budgets in making very interesting, beautiful campaigns every season. But in the design industry, you often see [a brand] having the same art for at least a year, sometimes more. That’s not as inspirational as going through the September issue of Vogue.

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Disegno No.4. Cover image: Ola Bergengren
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Disegno No.7 Cover image from a feature on artist Olafur Eliasson

What questions should an aspiring magazine publisher ask themselves?

The one thing that everyone seems not to understand is how much time it takes. You need to ask yourself if you’re up for the sacrifices it leads to. If you do want to start it as a business that’s going to support you and the people you work with, it will be very, very time-consuming and you have to go through several years to get where you want to be.

On the other hand, it can be good not to ask the questions, to go in a bit blind. If someone had told me exactly what the process would be from when I started to now, I would probably have said: ‘No, I’ll stick to the day job.’ But when you come out at the other end, it’s very rewarding to see that you’ve made something that works and that you can support yourself and a team, and pay office rent and things like that. I would say, though, that you need a specific psyche – being quite stubborn. Both Marcus [Agerman Ross, Johanna’s husband and partner in Tack Press] and I have benefited from not being able to take ‘no’ for an answer from anyone.

You need to be passionate about your subject matter. We’re not business people: I come from a design history and writing background, and Marcus comes from styling and photography. But that has really helped us: everything in Jocks and Nerds is what he’s passionate about through and through; everything in Disegno is something I can stand and shout about from the rooftops. If you don’t have a true, passionate interest, then it’s easy to give up when things don’t go your way. To the point of being stupid, you have to believe in what you’re doing.

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So you want to publish a magazine? published by Laurence King

So you want to publish a magazine? is published by Laurence King on August 5 and costs £19.95. Angharad Lewis is co-editor of Grafik magazine and a tutor at The Cass School of Design. 

To celebrate the book’s launch, we’ll be offering an exclusive discount code for readers of CR – check back on August 5 for details.

Why NSPCC is using a dancing dinosaur to teach children about sexual abuse

Last week, children’s charity NSPCC launched an animated film to help parents and carers talk to children about sexual abuse. Created by Aardman, the film introduces viewers to a yellow dinosaur named Pantosaurus. As Pantosaurus skips through town, playing basketball with his friends and building sandcastles at the beach, an accompanying song explains an important rule to children – that no-one should ever ask to see or touch what’s in their pants.

“It is a really difficult subject for parents to talk about with their kids so we wanted a light-hearted, age appropriate creative that would help parents start that conversation without mentioning the words sex or abuse,” head of marketing Tessa Herbert told CR. “We thought a catchy but simple song was the perfect way of ensuring children remembered the key messages – that their body belongs to them, that they have the right to say no and they should speak to a trusted adult if they’re ever worried about anything – without feeling scared or uncomfortable.”

The ad was released in cinemas on Friday and forms part of the charity’s PANTS campaign – an initiative launched in 2013 to encourage parents and carers to talk to children about sexual abuse using the PANTS anagram: Privates are private, Always remember your body belongs to you; No means no, Talk about secrets that upset you and Speak up, someone can help.

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An accompanying web page provides advice for parents, carers and teachers on how to approach the subject. NSPCC says the campaign has helped over 400,000 parents talk to children about abuse since it was launched, resulting in one conviction and a number of disclosures of abuse from children.

Speaking to CR when the PANTS campaign launched, Mark Tobin, then joint head of creative at NSPCC, said the aim was to create something that would work in a similar way to road safety message Stop, Look and Listen – “a memorable phrase that covers a lot of detail, but that helps people remember important fundamentals and feels uncomplicated and unthreatening.” The Pantosaurus ad builds on this approach with a simple but serious message: What’s in your pants belongs only to you.

The film is the latest in a series from NSPCC which uses animation to address some sensitive subjects – last year, the charity worked with Leo Burnett to create I Saw Your Willy and Lucy and the Boy, a pair of films highlighting the dangers of sending nude pictures and talking to strangers online. Both start out with a cheerful tone but soon take an ominous turn.

“Animation allows us to be more creative in telling stories which would be so difficult to tell using live action,” explains Herbert. “Young children are also well used to watching cartoons and learn a lot from key messages that are often hidden within, so we felt this was tapping into natural behaviour.”

The ads follow NSPCC’s decision to move away from hard-hitting communications and towards more positive marketing highlighting its preventative work and the support it provides to adults and children, a tactic also evident in its Alfie the Astronaut campaign from last year.

In 2014, the charity replaced its Full Stop branding with a colourful new identity and the strapline, ‘every childhood is worth fighting for’ – a move that Herbert says “tells people what we are fighting for rather than standing against.”

“Thanks in part to the Full Stop Campaign most people know that child abuse exists and needs to stop,” she adds. “It’s now really important that the general public understand what the solutions are to child abuse, what the NSPCC is doing and the impact we’re having, and how they as an individual member of society can help by joining the fight. We find that leaving people feeling motivated and positive is a very effective way of getting them to take action to protect children.”

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Words by Christoph Niemann

“What can you do with a word?” asks Christoph Niemann in his introduction to his forthcoming illustrated children’s book, Words.

Made as a celebration of both language and art, the book aims to help young readers discover 300 key words in context. “I am inviting kids (and readers of all ages) to intuit and puzzle out meaning,” writes the illustrator and author, “and to see language as a source of ideas and stories”.

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What’s notable about Niemann’s approach to the more typical A-Z word book is that he has broadened out the usual list of drawn words – apple, boat, cat etc – to include adjectives, verbs and conjunctions, often pairing two things together over a spread so that readers can see the subtle differences (or connections) between them.

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“Illustrating non-nouns (as well as the obvious verbs and adjectives) was what really drew my to this idea – ‘if’, ‘or’, ‘when’, ‘too’, ‘again’ are more tricky, but much more interesting!” Niemann told CR.

“The selection is loosely based on the [Dr Edward B] Fry list of the most common words, and I felt it was high time that all these small words finally get the recognition that their ubiquity commands.”

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“For me drawing and writing are very closely related,” Niemann writes on the page on his site about the book. “Both a word and a picture have the power to express extremely complex thoughts and emotions with amazing simplicity.

“Think of the word ‘love’, or a drawing of a smiling face. Being able to understand words and images opens the door to knowledge, communication, and connection to people all over the world.”

Words will be published in October from Greenwillow Books. More details are at Niemann’s site, while the book can also be pre-ordered via Amazon

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Lighting 102: One More Thing

In Lighting 102, we have learned some of the basic physical controls that we can apply to light: angle, distance, size, restriction.

We've also learned how to identify and control the zones of light that fall onto our subjects: diffused highlight, specular highlight, diffused shadow, diffused highlight to shadow transfer.

But there is another control lever that is more complex, more powerful and more evocative than all of the ones listed above. Read more »

Lighting 102: One More Thing

In Lighting 102, we have learned some of the basic physical controls that we can apply to light: angle, distance, size, restriction.

We've also learned how to identify and control the zones of light that fall onto our subjects: diffused highlight, specular highlight, diffused shadow, diffused highlight to shadow transfer.

But there is another control lever that is more complex, more powerful and more evocative than all of the ones listed above. Read more »

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