Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Vancouver Aquarium Rebrand

The designers of the Vancouver Aquarium rebrand in 2006 was Roy White, Matthew Clark and Steph Gibson. They are from Subplot Design Inc located on Homer street in Vancouver. The firm has produced creative brand design including: Logomarks + Identity, Brand Packaging, Product Design, Print Communications, Annual Reports, and Retail Identities + Environments.
The redesign of the Aquarium they wanted to embrace the aquariums fundamental purpose; aquatic conservation. The logo design was inspired by the spirit of the old logo to celebrate the Aquarium's history and commitment to the conservation in many forms. The shapes represent a sea-star, a kelp front and a wave to form a leaping fish. The new brand was published on brochures, a new website and all branded items and communications materials. 
The following pictures are the firms design:

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Picasso of Commercial Artists

Throughout the period of 1946 to 1996, a designer created a wide variety of very successful and influential work. He followed a “pragmatic approach to design, incorporating lessons learned from both European modern art and from abstract art” (Farmington, 2001). Distinctively, this commercial artist was able to communicate design in a new way; a simple direct language. This paper will discuss how he was able to achieve direct simplistic communication design to appeal to a broad audience, what steps he took with his career and how his designs have had an impact on its viewers. This prestigious designer is Saul Bass.

Saul Bass graduated high school at the early age of 15. He then continued his education as a part-time student at the Art Students League in 1939. He also took night classes at Student Brooklyn Collage in 1945 (Bass, 2013). Even though Saul Bass went to art school he did not attain a degree in design. This was because a ‘design school’ did not exist at this time. Therefore, much of Bass’ education was self-taught (Thomas, 1986). Bass broke out into the design profession by apprenticing with several design firms in Manhattan. Saul’s professional work did not take off immediately subsequent to his schooling. It was not until a few years later when he moved to Hollywood when his career started to thrive. Driven by what he once described as "the desire to be able to control the kind of work I do," he moved to Los Angeles in the early 1950's and opened his own studio (Thomas, 1996). This is where he submerged himself into the film industry. Over the years, he has designed: packaging, products, architecture, corporate branding and graphics.

Paul Rand was a big inspiration to Bass because of his use of shape and asymmetrical balance. Rand’s compositions were focused on shape, colour, and texture; Bass took these elements and reduced them to a single dominant image (Meggs, 2012). Bass was able to focus his design to a simple pictographic image in order to express a complex message (Farmington, 2001). An army of imitators arose depicting Bass’ design past his death without changing his ideals about design. This alone proves that his designs are timeless.  For one example, a modern artist named Tom Whalen, has taken Saul Bass’ style to a digital level (see figure 1). Tom as well has created his breadth around movie posters.

In the pre-computer era Bass worked with his hands to create his pieces. For Bass’ style, he cut paper irregularly, for a rigid look. Every aspect of his work was often stiff and off centred due to the fact that he did not use measurements. Bass’ typography style consisted of freely drawn decorative letterforms combined with handwriting. There was a robust energy and casual quality to all of Bass’ executions (Meggs, 2012).

In Hollywood, Bass emerged in the film industry where he designed the movie poster for “The Man With The Golden Arm” (1955). The jagged arm was a powerful symbol of drug addiction (Thomas, 1996). When “The Man With the Golden Arm”, opened in New York, the movie poster, depicting the arm, served as the only form of advertising (New York). This renowned poster helped launch his career into the direction that Bass was seeking. Bass utilized his interesting minimalist style to create unforgettable movie posters. A small sample of Bass’ striking movie posters throughout his career are: “Anatomy of a Murder”, West Side Story”, “Walk On The Wild Side” (see figure 1), “Around the World In 80 Days”, “Psycho”, “Vertigo”, “Goodfellas”, “Cape Fear”, “The Age of Innocence”, and “Casino”.

Along side of Alfred Hitchcock, the director of “Psycho” and “North by Northwest”, Saul Bass was able to create new groundbreaking experiences for the opening title sequences of these films (Josh Greenhut, 2012). His title sequences were so innovative because during that time the most interesting credit scene depicted a book, having its pages flipped, which displayed film credits on each page. His ingenious ideas were highly renowned in the film industry. This allowed him to begin building relationships with other major players in the industry. Using these connections, Bass was selected to be creative director for several scenes in a variety films (Meggs, 2012). After his tenure in the film industry, “he stopped producing title sequences he stepped up his work for corporate America” (Thomas,1996) (see figure 3).

Bass knew the difference between making money and quality of work. He highly believed in creating things that are beautiful, regardless if the client, or anyone else for that matter, understood the design or not. It was irrelevant what anyone thought of his work as long as it was worth it to him. Bass believed a corporate identity must be timeless and must have recognizable presence (Bass et al., 2011). 

Saul Bass had a strict philosophy for doing business with any company. He believed that:

“We learn the company’s history, their unique characteristics, their strengths, their weaknesses. We analyze competitors. Who is doing well or poorly and why. We collect and analyze all the client’s communication materials, everything that carries the corporation’s identity. If market research exists, we enlist it. If it doesn’t, we might recommend that it be undertaken, and though we don’t do the research ourselves, we participate in creating the design of the research to make sure that our questions are answered” (Bass et al., 2011).

Specifically for his studio, the employees would follow a step-by-step formula to produce the best design for the customer’s product. Research of the customer’s company and product was the first and most important step. A thorough, but discreet study of the company was needed. The study was conducted by doing a one-on-one interview with a high level executive of the company. Saul Bass preferred to do this interview himself rather then having his employees do it for him. Typically the interview lasted over an hour (Josh Greenhut, 2012). 

Using the research, Bass then defined the problem that the company was facing.
A proper objective needed to be implemented for something that will lead the studio to a solution. They obtained this objective by forming a rational basis for evaluating their work. After this process, the design of the product could be sketched out. They showed all their sketches to their client, whether it be good or bad. This allowed them to examine all options and eliminate the least fitting designs. Bass’ studio narrowed down their options to 2 or 3 final designs that they believe were the most viable. Once these designs were approved, the polished rendering begun. Upon completion of the designs, Bass reviewed them and chose the design that fit best with the original objective. (Bass et al., 2011)

“The reason for design is to speak to people in a language this is familiar, but also a new way” (Bass, 2013). Saul Bass was able to see modern life today in the fact that the attention span for commercial art was limited. He understood from this how he would approach his designs. His ultimate goal is to make people feel as well as think (Bass et al., 2011).  “design is thinking visual” - Saul Bass

Greenhut, J. (2012). Josh Greenhut. Retrieved April 7, 2013, from http://www.joshgreenhut.com/2012/10/07/saul-bass-process/

Thomas Jr, R. M. (1996). Saul Bass, 75, Designer, Dies; Made Art Out of Movie Titles. New York Times [New York]. Retrieved from http://http://www.nytimes.com/1996/04/27/movies/saul-bass-75-designer-dies-made-art-out-of-movie-titles.html?src=pm

Boston, A. [archieboston]. (2007). Saul Bass: On Making Money vs Quality Work [video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfDCNpaPBiA

Farmington, G. (2001). The Design of the Familiar. Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History.. Credo Reference. 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 7 Apr. 2013. Retrieved from http://0-www.credoreference.com.library.capilanou.ca/entry/acih/the_design_of_the_familiar.

Bass, S. (2013). Marquis Who Was Who in America 1985-present. New Providence: Marquis Who's Who LLC, 2013. N. pag. Credo Reference. 15 Feb. 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2013. <http://0-www.credoreference.com.library.capilanou.ca/entry/marquiswww/bass_saul>.]]]]]

Bass, J., Kirkham, P., & Bass, S. (2011). Saul Bass: A life in film & design. London: Laurence King.

Figure 1 Dracula by Tom Whalen  
Figure 2  “West Side Story” movie poster 1961 by Saul Bass.
Figure 3 collaboration of company branding samples by Saul Bass
Figure 4 Saul Bass Signature

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Saul Bass Essay Topics

Please excuse all gramatical errors and format of this post.
The following is a rough outline of what my essay will include. 

Saul Bass: how did he discover the communication aspect in design? how did he speak clearly through his design to such a wide audience. 
How he was able to decide how designs are able to have longevity. 
What are the secrets.
Tips that he would suggest to students? 
What are his rules with design? His ideologies with his design.
How did he achieve a direct to the point, simplistic design?

“Born: May 8, 1920 NYC
-Education: Student Art Students League 1939. Student Brooklyn Collage 1945; Doctorate at Philadelphia Music Collage of Art. Doctorate at L.A. Art Center Collage of Design. Doctorate at Otis and Parsons Art institute.
-Family: Married to Elaine Makatura, Sept. 30, 1961. Their children are Jennifer, Jeffrey.
-Big Breaks:
Movies: “Man with Golden Arm” in 1995, “Carmen Jones”, “Anatomy of a Murder”, “West side story walk on the wild side”, “around the world in 80 days”, “psycho”, “vertigo”, "Goodfellas," "Cape Fear," "The Age of Innocence" and "Casino". 
Logos: A.T.&T., the Bell System, Minolta and Quaker Oats. For United Airlines
-Career: Freelance graphic designer, NYC, 1936-46; propr. Saul Bass & Assocs., Inc., Los Angeles, 1946-96
-Death: Died Apr. 25, 1996

-minimalist amateur style that reduced to a single dominant image in space to tell a whole story that depicted a complex message
-1954 and 1995

-Saul Bass's work reaches out to not just designers, or students, or observers of design, or those who know and can explain what a designer is and does, but simply people—many, many people 
-Tom Whallen as an example

-A great designer
-he was able to stretch his reach into so many areas 
-Saul was a master at dipping in any area

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Saul Bass What A Boss

Before I began my search for a graphic designer to write a research paper on, I quickly realized that I have plenty of designs that I take inspiration from, but not any designers that I look up and follow regularly. 
I began looking at the inspiration that I have on my Pinterest site. I researched my favourite designer on this list throughout the web (blogs, Facebook, websites, google search, Capilano Library etc.) to find little or no information about their work. Tom Whalen was the only designer I was able to find the information about. I thoroughly enjoy Tom’s designs, mainly because he incorporates design and illustration into a cohesive duo. With several hours looking for more information about him the pattern like of my other inspirations; fell short. I realized that a modern designer for a research paper is not the way to go. 

I read in an interview with Tom Whalen one of his big inspirations is Saul Bass. 
Yup! I found my designer. 
Saul Bass quote “design is thinking made visual.”, is on a sticky note in my room but I never looked into who said it. 
Saul’s designs are appealing to me because they are a simple, straight-forward style. I do find several elements I love about Tom Whalens work in Saul’s designs as well. As a few linked elements between the designers: colouring, the overall mood, perfect lines in a skewed-minimalist style. Having little research about Saul I discovered the average lifespan of his logos are 34 years old. To have several major brands that keep my logo for dozens of years would be a far dream at this point. 
Saul has had a very well rounded design career. Starting in New York to leave for California to create film posters to logos to reinventing film credits forever. Saul had designed it all: films, packaging, products, architecture, corporate identification, and graphics. Saul had started his passion young and has achieved a great breadth of work. Why Saul as my preferred designer? I aspire to achieve a slice of what he accomplished and in my research I may find some tips on how to keep at least one design around longer then I am alive. 
-above is a collage of a few famous Saul Bass designs