Illustrating an Ale Narrative

With so many microbrews infiltrating the marketplace—and taking up valuable shelf space in retail outlets—having a memorable package design that stands out from the crowd is more important than ever. So when Ommegang Brewery, based in Cooperstown, New York, decided to update its brand, they hired French illustrator, Yann Legendre, to bring their packaging to life.

Each ale has a fun, quirky back story, so the art needed to portray those qualities and bring them to life. Legendre notes, “They were looking for an artist who would bring a sense of movement, openness, storytelling, and wit in the art, to both honor their history and reflect a stylish, dynamic, and modern approach.”

He credits Ommegang’s art director Larry Bennett, with devising the clever stories. “Typically, we look for a story idea that may lead to a brewing idea, that will create an even better story idea,” Bennett says. “We have a great history with Belgium and American brewing, so we don’t often have to pull rabbits out of hats. Unless it’s a story that involves magic.” Read the rest of the story here.

This is my birth mother

I’ve never met her. She had me shortly after her 21st birthday and gave me up for adoption. People look at this photo and think it’s me.

She was a college student at University of Wisconsin in Platteville, studying to be a teacher. In spring of 1969, she discovered she was pregnant with me. In those days young, single, pregnant women were hidden away, so when the semester ended, she went to a home for unwed mothers in Milwaukee. Not surprisingly, the birth father wanted nothing to do with the situation. It didn’t matter. She knew what she was going to do.

Only a couple of close friends and her immediate family knew she was pregnant. People from her small hometown in Indiana believed she stayed at school for the summer, and when she didn’t return to school in the fall, her friends there were told she was taking a semester off.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to bring a baby into this world and then give her away. Nine months of caring for another being growing in your body, all the while knowing you’re going to hand her off to someone else. But she did. She made the ultimate sacrifice to give me a better life, and I’d like to think, not halt hers … but fate has a way of intervening.

She was never able to fulfill her dream of finishing school and becoming a teacher. Six months after she gave birth to me, she was killed in a car accident. She had finally gotten her life back together only to be taken in a single, senseless act.

I searched for her and spent years on a waiting list, only to discover she had been dead my entire life. I was devastated. Not because I needed a mother — I have loving, supportive parents — but I always thought a piece of me was missing. Still do. I don’t know if meeting her would have changed that.

I met her sister and mother for the first time in my early 20s. I felt their grief, but also joy. I’m the spitting image of her, so I imagine for them, it was like seeing a ghost. They stared at me and commented on our shared characteristics — a similar crooked eye tooth, and nearly identical facial features. At the time, I was a couple years older than she was when she died, so time stood still and there I was.

Several years later, when I attended the funeral service for her mother, I could feel eyes on me. It was a neighbor who was in on the secret, and she instantly knew who I was. By that time, 40 years had passed, yet few people there knew of my existence until that day. It was surreal and sweet to meet her friends and relatives. They spoke fondly of her and recalled the emotional hardship on her family after her death.

Having such a close resemblance to another person was a new, albeit strange, experience for me. “Who do I look like?” is perhaps the biggest question for any adopted person. Seeing photos of her answered that question for me, but it didn’t resolve any lingering identity issues I had. Those are still mine.

I see parts of myself, and her, in my children. I’m so grateful to her for the difficult decision she made so many years ago, and to her family for supporting her.

This article originally published here.

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Moshik Nadav: Bringing Sexy Back to Type

Born and raised in Israel, Moshik Nadav has always had an affinity for letterforms and typography. He immersed himself in graphic design journals at a young age, admiring and studying the work of the masters. While still a student of graphic design, his type designs were gaining recognition by leading international design publications and major online typography and design blogs. By the time he graduated, he had already designed four typefaces.

Nadav established his design business, Moshik Nadav Typography, in 2009, serving a variety of international clients, and in 2013, he moved to New York City. His distinct style can be attributed to his love of fashion and his adoration of the female form. Just as a fashion designer must consider the drape of the fabric on a human figure, Nadav’s affinity for sleek lines and sexy curves are distinct characteristics of his typefaces, which include contrasting line strokes, and delicate, extended serifs that entwine and envelop each other. Every element in his unique letterforms is carefully considered as he bends and manipulates each shape and tendril, while respecting the rules of typography and readability. When an entire alphabet is finished, it’s like a new fashion line hitting the runway—each letter is unique on its own, but when seen as a family, it all works together and it’s undoubtedly Moshik Nadav.

Read the full interview with Nadav here, where he discusses his latest typeface, Lingerie.

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The Canadianist: Highs and Lows

Our friends to the North, Everlovin’ Press in Kingston, Ontario, have created a new series of fine letterpress prints called The Canadianist, featuring five illustrations from select artists to comment on Cananadian culture, from high to low .

Illustrator Tom Froese and Everlovin’ conceived the series to promote the Canadian design and illustration community and showcase the beauty of letterpress. They had previously collaborated on a postcard series entitled Greetings From Canada with a similar tongue-in-cheek mandate.  The Canadianist is their sequel to that. Five artists were invited to address one theme each: Fashion, Food, Flora, Know-How, and Colloquialisms.

Froese says, “Vince and I have a passion for letterpress, and of course would like to establish Everlovin’ as the choicest letterpress printer for designers in the country.” They chose the artists and assigned them themes that they thought would suit their styles and would provide lots of potential for ‘assemblages of Canadiana.’” Read the rest here.

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Where Are the Local Police When You Need Them?

I live near Bradley Park, and I often take my children and dog there. Last week, the unthinkable happened: An unleashed pit bull attacked another dog being walked by its owner.

The pit bull’s owner yelled to his dog, and then he started yelling at the other dog’s owner. His dog was attacking her dog, not the other way around. No one was helping the woman, so I ran over and yelled at the pit bull’s owner, “Your dog should be on a leash.” He approached me holding his dog by the collar in one hand and a can of beer in the other, screaming at me to “Shut the f&%@ up.”

He was within two feet of me. Honestly, I was scared he was going to hit me. I told him repeatedly not to get any closer, and I pulled out my phone and dialed 911. He yelled some more and finally walked away, gathering his friends. At least one other person called 911. I told the dispatcher that he was leaving and where he was walking, thinking a police officer would surely show up soon.

The true crime of this story is that no officers ever arrived. I called again when the man reappeared in the park several minutes later to pick something up that he left behind. I asked if any police were coming and the dispatcher said no, because I had said the guy was leaving. Really? There were plenty of witnesses willing to talk, not to mention a bleeding dog. I gave a description of the man, said he was still there and that we were leaving because I was afraid of him and I had my daughter with me. Again, no cops arrived. Approximately 30 minutes later, after we returned home, the police called and wanted to talk.

When I asked the officer why no one responded, he said that at the same time, he got a call about a guy who broke his leg at the RiverPlex, and that took precedence. Really? Don’t the Fire Department and EMTs deal with a broken leg? I questioned his logic and he said, “How would you feel if you were the guy with the broken leg?” I responded that there was a loose pit bull in a public park attacking another dog and children were present. He seemed to shrug.

Is there only one police officer on duty at a time in this city? I later learned that this officer was from the Park District, where my call was dispatched.

When I call 911, I expect an officer to arrive on the scene, even if the situation has dissipated. I don’t care whose jurisdiction the emergency falls under. Someone better respond, and in a timely manner.

This story was published in the June 6, edition of The Peoria Journal Star.

A Family Affair

Remember when you used to get tons of beautifully-printed self promotions in the mail from designers and artists? The envelopes were bulky and you just knew something good was inside. Unfortunately, those days are long gone and we rarely get physical mail, other than bills. Well, LewisCarnegie, based in Austin, Texas, still attends to this tradition of creating and mailing luscious print promotions with original illustrations to its clients and friends. Read the rest of the story here.

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AKU and the Rise of the Great Estonian Design

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, isn’t home to many designers, which is perhaps why AKU has attracted such a wide range of clients. From microbreweries and music festivals to the more buttoned-up Estonian parliament, founders Alari Orav, Kaarel Kala, and Uku-Kristjan Küttis have already made a name for themselves in their mother country—but the international design community is getting to know them, too. At first glance, their work is startlingly simple, but upon further inspection you begin to appreciate the intricacies involved in color choice and type placement, as well as the use of illustration and graphics. This spare yet exquisite layering of details is the result of years of experience—Orav, Kala, and Küttis have been honing their design skills since they were teenagers. We recently caught up with them about the growing design scene in Estonia, how they collaborate with local artists, and their special recipe for particularly exciting work. Read the rest here.

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The Coloring Book Grows Up

Searching for novel gifts for creative colleagues? Looking for a fun activity to kick off your next staff meeting? Miss playing with crayons? This adult coloring book collection is for you.

As a kid, I loved getting a new box of crayons and trying out each color to see how it looked on paper. Coloring books allowed me to magically transform a black and white page into a vibrant concoction of my own design. Eventually, I lost interest in images of animated characters and moved on. But I never lost the desire to color and create with my hands.

The act of coloring has proven to be a great stress reliever for many people. It’s an escape from our hectic lives and forces us to focus on what’s right in front of us by using our imagination to arrange colors in a pleasing way. Fortunately, a new crop of coloring books aimed at adults has flooded the marketplace recently. Read rest of article here.

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Resident Artists Make Peoria Their Temporary Home

Located on Washington Street, just South of the Mac Arthur Hwy bridge, Prairie Center of the Arts is housed in a 120 year old building that was once home to a rope manufacturer. The warehouse is now occupied with a large gallery space on one side, and a printmaking shop and artist studios on the other.

The Center offers residencies to artists allowing them to work with the tools in the workshop without distraction. Dawn Gettler came to Peoria from Chicago as an art resident a couple of years ago, and when she was offered the program manager job at the Center, she moved here full-time last December. “I found that I could buy a house here and afford a studio and get a job in the arts. I sort of re-evaluated what it meant to be successful, and for me that meant being able to make work and sustain a lifestyle, which I can do in Peoria,” she says. Read the rest of the story here.

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Meet ITAL/C: The L.A. studio’s beachy-clean style defies SoCal stereotypes

Designers Matt Titone and Ron Thompson met in 2009 while working at Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles. Both have experience at large agencies and small design studios alike, so when they decided to open their own multidisciplinary firm in 2012 in L.A., one of the first things they knew they wanted was the freedom to pursue all kinds of projects without limitation.

After an exhaustive naming process, they chose the name ITAL/C. “We like it because it’s not too descriptive or cheesy, and it’s part of the design vocabulary,” says Thompson. “It’s also a way to stand apart without shouting and be a little more elegant.” Fortunately, they didn’t have to shout to get business, but they did make a conscious decision when they opened shop that they wouldn’t take on freelance projects any longer. Read rest of story here.

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