Graphic Design Halloween Costumes – Bauhaus Edition

It’s October, which means once again it’s time for Graphic Design Halloween costumes. This year I want to highlight the really out-there masterpieces from the Bauhaus in the 1920s. The famous artists at the Bauhaus (including Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Piet Mondrian, László Moholy-Nagy, and Marcel Breuer) apparently had quite the costume competition at their social events, creating fantastical, original outfits that played with silhouette, line, shape, and all sorts of visual design principles.

The costumes were described by Farkas Molnár, a Hungarian architect and Bauhaus student, in his 1925 essay, Life at the Bauhaus: “Inhuman, or humanoid, but always new. You may see monstrously tall shapes stumbling about, colorful mechanical figures that yield not the slightest clue as to where the head is. Sweet girls inside a red cube. Here comes a witch and they are hoisted high up into the air; lights flash and scents are sprayed. … Kandinsky prefers to appear decked out as an antenna, Itten as an amorphous monster, Feininger as two right triangles, Moholy-Nagy as a segment transpierced by a cross, Gropius as Le Corbusier, Muche as an apostle of Mazdaznan, Klee as the song of the blue tree. A rather grotesque menagerie…”

Along these same lines are the delightful masks from a collaboration between the artist Saul Steinberg and photographer Inge Morath (more here).

Want more? I found a lot of my source material from this great article on Curbed, and you can also check out these fun posts from Improvised Life (here and here) and The Charnel House (here).

If you’re looking for inspiration for more modern costume ideas, check out my previous costume posts here and here. Happy Halloween!

Pixel & Pilcrow || Happy Halloween || Graphic Design Halloween || Helvetica pumpkin carving


Designing Sacred Spaces

I recently revamped a student project done for my Experimental Typography class last semester. I’d put a lot of work into the images, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with how the final layout had turned out. So during my vacation I took a few days to re-evaluate it, figure out what parts I wanted to keep and what I wanted to redo. Below is the description of my project; you can also see it up on the Behance Network: Designing Sacred Spaces.

For Experimental Type class we were given the assignment to create a series of three 18″ by 24″ posters on architecture that use hand-made type. I chose to theme mine on religious architecture (I’ve always been fascinated by what makes a space feel sacred), with the first poster on Cathedrals (featuring stained glass), the second on Mosques (featuring geometric tile patterns) and the third on Buddhist Temples (featuring wood carved). The three posters featured words used in prayer or meditation in their religion.

Designing Sacred Spaces, Lecture 1: Cathedrals
Designing Sacred Spaces, Lecture 2: Mosques
Designing Sacred Spaces, Lecture 3: Buddhist Temples

One of the difficulties was that a lot of the beauty of these religious spaces comes from the intricate, time-intensive detail that they are decorated with—the challenge was to figure out how I could create a reasonable replica of the style with the resources available to me. For the Cathedral poster I used a skill I learned in high school and designed and created the stained glass window myself (I bought supplies and rented studio space at San Francisco Stained Glass Works). The Mosque and Temple posters I created using a laser wood cutting machine at the Stanford Machine Shops. I used photoshop to touch up the photos, including adjusting the colors to have a deep, rich feel to them and make sure there was enough visual differentiation between the two designs cut on the laser cutter.

For the poster composition I wanted to strike the somewhat difficult balance between a structural, clean modern architectural feel and the intricate, rich, traditional older feel of the religious buildings. For a sense of structure I used alignment and variations in size and leading for the different text blocks, along with two light rules. I used the typeface Pullman for the main title and the list of lecture topics on the left column, which is an angular typeface with a geometrical feel that I felt gave it a more intricate, ritual aspect. The other typeface I wanted to be very clean and simple, to balance the character of Pullman, so I chose Univers in a variety of weights and sizes. I also tied the posters together by giving all three a column of black on the left, where I traced the continuation of the the photographs to emphasize that the lectures were about designing these spaces and give a subtle allusion to a blue print or plan for the design.

All three posters feature original photographs of original artwork. All work copyright Rebecca Wright.

A Cover Collection

Here are some of my current favorite book covers from my Pinterest board for cover designs. Let me know what you think, or if you have any other suggestions for favorites!

“To Kill A Mocking Bird” cover designed by Aafke Brouw.

Lovely, simple, arresting design, and a new take on a classic book (original pin link leads here).

“Jane Eyre” cover designed by Megan Wilson.

Simplistic yet arresting design; fresh take for a classic book. The simple triangle graphic addition add just the right amount of detail. Original pin link goes to The Book Cover Archive.

If you haven’t heard of The Book Cover Archive yet, it’s an awesome resource. I have yet to explore it thoroughly, but every time I stumble into it, I stumble out happy. I recommend losing some time there when you can.

Continue reading A Cover Collection

More Like Instaddiction

A picture I took of my homemade gingerbread cupcakes with orange cream cheese frosting and candied ginger (love the way the morning light caught the ginger)

Last summer I downloaded the Instagram app for my iphone, futzed around with it for an afternoon, and decided it wasn’t really that interesting. Plus, I found a different photo app called Camera+, featured on the wonderful typography website for its use of the beautiful typeface Bree (read their Camera+ post). It seemed pretty cool.

But the other day my boyfriend was griping about how Camera+ and Facebook both make you log into their site to view any pictures, and he put up a fairly good argument for the Instagram app instead. So I decided to try it out again, give it a second chance to impress me.

Aaaand I might be minorly addicted, already. What I either hadn’t noticed, or hadn’t been developed well enough the first time I checked it out, was Instagram’s twitter-like interface for sharing photographs and viewing a group of selected friends’ images. I quickly discovered that quite a few of my art school classmates are on there, taking awesome photographs and sharing them with all. And their photographs were doing what good photographs do—making me look twice at the world around me, making me see the beauty in a basketball court that I wouldn’t have seen the first time I looked. They made me start to look at my world through the photographer’s mental lens again, make me really look at the visual appearance of everything.

Noticing the danger of my Instagram feed become all food, I took this picture of Andrew working one evening, and played around with the filters.

Even the filters, which are part of what people love about Instagram, seem to help me develop my aesthetic sense. How does the muted blue-tinged filter make a photo feel as opposed the exact same photograph with the high-contrast filter? How are my classmates manipulating their photographs to add visual impact? Can I get good at identifying the best filter for a photograph in Instagram, in an effort to have more mastery over visual manipulation in general?

Using Instagram again reminded me almost immediately of the feel of my first semester at AAU when one of our assignments was, in addition to regular homework, to bring in 7 new images every week. The point was to get us to start looking, to start identifying good images and learning how to obtain them and make them ourselves. At the time it felt like kind of a pain in the neck to have to do every week, but it really started me looking for good images. And a graphic designer is nothing without good images.

So, in a way I feel like using Instagram is really just an extension of art school. Can I take a picture, make an image, that is beautiful and more importantly, worth sharing? We’ll see.

(Follow me on Instagram! My account name is “rewright”)

Judging By the Cover

Yep, I’m doing it. After going through the entire Penguin 75 book, I’ve been seduced by The Manual of Detection, and yes, I’m buying the book based on its cover. But its such a delightful cover! If I called it obtaining design samples for later inspiration, would it be more acceptable?

The Manual of Detection
Beautiful! Love the typography, love the images, the atmosphere, love it!

Other books I may get in the next month or so:

Zadie Smith On Beauty
Zadie Smith on Beauty
The Shadow of the Wind
The Shadow of the Wind
The China Lover
The China Lover