I'm heading into Labor Day weekend with a case of tonsillitis, which I haven't had since I was, oh: eight years old? Apropos of nothing, let me present Max Richter's 24 Postcards in Full Colour, two dozen pieces of music accompanied by black-and-white photographs meant to be experienced in any order you wish. A good, simple idea, and good music if you like Brian Eno's Music for Airports, which I do. The juxtaposition of music and simple image is just, well, good somehow. A simple idea, executed in a simple manner, but it lights the old imagination right up. Via Very Short List.
I'd be remiss if I didn't address my general disappointment in Bill Clinton leading up to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, but damn, can the man deliver a line. "People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power." Forgive me if this was borrowed from another source for which I am unaware, but it made me a bit misty for the good old days.
Via Portland advertising agent (and this correspondent’s early mentor) Jerry Ketel comes this account of artist Christoph Niemann’s tiling solution for two bathrooms in his new house in Berlin. Recommended reading for any post-digital individual who is no longer able to look at bathroom tile without seeing pixels. Treat yourself to the story’s comments thread to find out what the morlocks think. (My favorite: “Talk about idle rich.”) Related – and also recommended – is a story the Times ran a couple of months back about Niemann’s sons and their obsession with the New York subway system.
Oh, and a housekeeping note: Bespoke accepts comments again. Somehow, when we switched servers (which we’re about to do again), the governing templates were overwritten by earlier, non-inclusive versions. Bespoke regrets the error.
Tim Leigh: First time I saw Warren Eakins was in the back conference room of our ad agency, Denny-Wagoner-Wright. He and Ann Marra, partners in a Corbett Street design studio at the time, were there to show their portfolios. I had recently become creative director for the firm and was interested in increasing my awareness of local talent.
Both Warren and Ann had come to Portland from Eastern Washington – Warren from Spokane, where he’d attended Spokane Falls Community College, and Ann from Pullman, where she’d studied design at WSU. Warren seemed reticent, almost shy. He spoke with a measured tempo that added a considered aspect to his repartee. He wanted to be taken seriously. He churned with wonderful ideas, though, that peeked through his laconic façade, and when he described executing some of them in the form of comprehensives (remember those?), he became positively animated. For Warren, the creation of comprehensives was where art lived in the design business. He’d laboriously paint thin tissue sheets with intense gouache colors (the outermost one was always black), paste them on top of each other, and fashion his visuals by cutting away pieces of the layers. The effect was electric, and Warren became famous for the technique.
Once, at a Designer’s Roundtable show-and-tell, he demonstrated his comping style. For a door prize, his full-size khaki (plus many other paint colors) work apron, mounted and framed, was offered. Thing was, while a lot of people admired the dramatic results Warren achieved, not many wanted to spend the time or effort to duplicate them. So he pretty much remained an original.
Over the years, Warren’s profile grew regionally, he executed the identity and design suite for the Designers’ Roundtable’s first piece of mind gallery show (the original concept for which he sketched on a restaurant napkin, for Pete’s sake!), and ended up catching the eye of up-and-coming Portland ad agency Wieden & Kennedy.
Margaret Twelves: Pete and I first met Warren when he was with Ann Marra (the king and queen of design) up on NW Thurman Street. We worked with him and Lucy for several years before they moved to Amsterdam (where he lived on a canal barge), and loved the guy. He enjoyed telling stories, always starting with “I remember a time…” Not only was he enormously talented, he was reasonable to deal with – a rare combination. Never full of himself, he was one of those people who blurred the line between art and advertising, and his work was wonderfully stylish and sophisticated as a result.
As far as we know, he and Lucy ended up in LA and he had a really successful career.
Ann Marra: I didn't see much of Warren after he left our new studio on Thurman, although I heard that he was in California working on movies and built a house in a canyon around LA.
Thom Smith: Warren and I found each other just after I arrived in Portland in 1979. I was hired as an art director at Young & Roehr and Jerry Young arranged our meeting. I had just come up from the Bay Area and didn't know anyone in Portland at the time. Warren had done a short stint with a San Francisco designer and Jerry thought we should meet.
My initial feeling about Warren was that he was a regular guy, which appealed to my Midwestern sensibilities. He told me he was helping to raise his girlfriend's (Lucy) daughter, and I could tell this meant the world to him. He had done some international travel (as I had), and we discussed our mutual love of Amsterdam.
In the egocentric and ephemeral world of advertising design, Warren impressed me as someone you’d want as a friend. And talented as he was, I think the quality that most contributed to his success was his ability to connect with people, and put them at ease. Not to say that he wasn't driven and methodical, but he also had a laid-back nature which made him approachable.
Whomever he teamed with, the resulting work always provoked a smile, often ranked as Portland’s best, and made the players proud to be a part of the creative community here.
The tone of this post notwithstanding: to the best of our knowledge, Mr. Eakins is still alive and working at McGarry Bowen in New York. He is not dead. —Ed.
McIsaac forwarded this to the desk of the Tuesday Flickr Set and we simply obliged. Not much to disagree with there considering that he shares that small, yet well-appointed desk. But Bespoke is a pure democracy; majority rules and we all agreed it was high time for pictures of stuff. Little more. Of the same mind, British designer alistairh has posted two meritorious collections with his Ephemera and Signs and Lettering sets. As you've come to know, typically we'd devote a little more ink (or a few more pixels, as it were), but we really needn't do so. The real story here is in the images and we admit to having our favorites. Of those, the ageless simplicity of The British Travel Association (BOAC) materials reminds one of the winsomeness of deliciously flat colour. Does The West of England Sack Contractors maintain all the qualities of a peerless nameplate? Hardly. Yet for what it's worth, we're a bit better off in knowing that the agency informs of "sacks let on hire." Alistair is a principal at We Made This Ltd. in London.
A brief comment from the world of sport. We're all very impressed with Michael Phelps' performance at the Beijing Olympics. But younger readers who delight in having old records swept away by their peers are advised to recognize: Mark Spitz didn't have the advantage of friction-reducing swimwear (above, left); he won his medals wearing a moustache, full mane, and impressive thatches of underarm hair (pictured above right, with helmet). I had thought that he also swam with a carpet on his chest, but evidently not (Hillerns said I must have been thinking of seventies adult entertainment star Jamie Gillis). I don't know if Mr. Spitz ate 16,000 calories a day, but I do know that once he pulled himself out of the pool, he was ready to hit the airport bar. So: eight medals? Bravo, Mr. Phelps. But to that record, this correspondent must append an asterisk.
Hillerns is going to kill me for this. What, you may ask, does 1978 concert footage of Kansas performing their anthem
Carry On, My Wayward Son have to do with brand development? Observe: frontman Steve Walsh always performed shirtless, wearing the short shorts popular in those days, to which he carefully color-coördinated a pair of tube socks.
Beyond that, you've got me. But, people: you have to see Mr. Walsh alternating between a furious assault on the congas and a blistering lead on the B3 during the
jamming section. In fact, you have to see the whole thing. And then, as Rilke wrote, you must change your life.
In a design-flavored salute to the Beijing games, Doug Barlow takes one for the team and blows a thousand bucks on cheap online logo providers. If you've ever wondered how these places stack up, wonder no more. via Bierut.
A weekly assembly of what we, here at Pinch. A Design Office., might be talking about, listening to, reading, or otherwise coveting. For the most part, we'll try to keep the links somewhat focused on design. Sometimes, not. We do hope you'll enjoy.
This Sunday's New York Times has Christopher Benfey filing a deft review of Steven Heller's Iron Fists: Branding the 20th-Century Totalitarian State from Phaidon Press. Heller's most recent explores the discipline of "branding" among Hitler's Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy under Mussolini, Lenin's and Stalin's Soviet Union and China under Mao. Benfey's point about Imperial Japan being omitted is irrefutably valid but 223 pages, as Heller would likely agree, hardly provides for an exhaustive study. Besides, word has it that Volume 2 is focused entirely on Bush/Cheney and their cute little magnetic yellow ribbons (promised as Tony Orlando and Dawn patriotic commemoratives, but intended as politically-fueled You're Either With Us or Again' Us! propaganda. Made in China, of course.). Okay, I might be kidding a bit about that second installment.
All in all, it's been a satisfying few weeks here at Pinch. We've welcomed a new member to our small team in Bowman Leigh, who has been instrumental in making contact with some organizations that we've long admired and were too shy to approach. From those discussions, we've met some wonderful people who have taken a keen interest in our humble endeavor. Apparently, it actually helps business to remind people that you're in business.
We're pleased to be working on a new identity program and brand platform, which results from the Oregon Trout and Oregon Water Trust merger and have established what we hope is a long-term relationship with e-Discovery developer, Exterro. We reconnected with Cynthia Fuhrman (formerly of Office of Sustainable Development) who has taken her rightful post as Director of Marketing and Communications at Portland Center Stage, and we've have had our collective heads down on a history book for Columbia Forest Products, and brand development for Metro's Multifamily Recycling program with Pyramid Communications. Take a breath... We enjoyed collaborating with Celery on a nice little billboard campaign for CleanFish, a provider of sustainably managed seafood and we revisited some product branding work for our friends at StormwateRx. Further work for OSD's BEST Business Center begins shortly, as does event development for the annual Portland Parks Foundation Legacy Circle event materials. And, of course, we hope that discussions with Oregon Institute of Technology (who offers a very interesting renewable energy program), Greater Yellowstone Coalition (stewards of the most diverse ecosystem in the lower 48) and fmyi (whose collaborative product brings people together) all continue to move forward.
As posted last week, it seems that our dabblings in the social media have also taken root. Due in no small part to our Flickr page, within the past ten or so days, Pinch has been featured in UK design aggregators AisleOne and SeptemberIndustry, as well as FFFFound! and Thinking for a Living. For their green issue, Media Inc. magazine picked up a story on our work for PureBond, the industry-shaping formaldehyde free plywood product from Columbia Forest Products. We've established our loosely-knit social strategy with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter; in part to test what it does for Pinch as well as to further our counsel in these areas with our client base in the not-for-profit sector. We've long maintained that design is not entirely about pretty pics and well-set type, but rather about considering every option for communicating an organizations' message. As the social networks have proven, it's about dialogue, not propaganda.
In addition to attending recent events at PNCA, Office PDX and our on-going AIGA Portland commitments (plus McIsaac's International Male tour schedule), it's safe to say that its been a bit busy around here. We realize, of course, that the door has only been opened due to the work and referrals that our long-time clients have been so gracious to provide. The success of those works is a result of so many positive and productive relationships. We don't say it nearly enough, but we simply wouldn't be here without them.
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