Sunday, December 20, 2009

Behind the Scenes: Mike Wood's Helmet

As promised, here's a look behind the scenes of the photoshoot for that promo piece I created recently.

The helmet Mike uses for his act is an awesome, 1970s vintage Canadian motorcycle helmet that he's modified heavily. And by modified heavily, I mean he's put a bunch of spikes on top.

Knowing that I wanted a 3/4 view of the helmet, I set up a softbox camera left, pointed slightly down. This provided the majority of the illumination and also gave the helmet a bit of shadow around the edges to provide depth. A second light bounced off a reflector to the right of the helmet ensured the shadows weren't too harsh.

Not a bad shot, but hardly slick enough for my purposes. Only having two lights means that I often have to plan my post-production pretty carefully – what I could accomplish with three lights, I do with two and Photoshop. So for the next shot, I put the second light with a slave trigger inside the helmet, taped to the top. You can see how this gave the inside of the helmet a great glow:

Here's the a quick back and forth of the two images showing the difference:

With the shoot done, I then proceeded to process and edit the shots. A little bit of masking and editing in Photoshop resulted in this next image. I composited the glowing interior with the exterior shot, brought in a new chin-strap and did some cosmetic retouching.

And now the final result. I removed the background, brought out some highlights and tweaked the Levels on the spikes.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Recent Work: Mike Wood!

Mike Wood is an internationally acclaimed street performer, best known for catapulting a cabbage through the air which he catches on a spiked helmet. No, seriously. He's great. Funny, too.

Mike approached me to create a promo piece which he could send to the World Busker Fest 2010 organizers, one of whom is an avid philatelist. As such, the solution was to create a stamp commemorating Mike's appearance.

After a couple of concepts, it became clear that the solution was to take the iconic image from Mike's act and present it in a clean, contemporary design.

Next up – behind the scenes of the photoshoot!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The New York Public Library, again

Going through my archives, I found this from a couple of years ago.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chris Ware in the New Yorker

link to the New Yorker

Every time I come across Chris Ware's work, I fall in love with it all over again. If you don't know his work, Ware is a brilliant comic artist whose ability to render even the most complicated things simply gives his work a rare elegance. His cover for the New Yorker, pictured above, is evidence of this. Ware is also an incredibly talented hand-letterer and his work is heart-breakingly beautiful in its writing and execution.

Ware's piece for the New Yorker is particularly timely for me. I was rooting through a sketchbook recently, and came across a page where I'd obviously been having a Bad Drawing Day and had written a note to myself:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Behind the Scenes: Anatomy of an Image

I did a shoot recently that ended up having a really interesting post-production component. I was taking a photography of my old, beaten up, hard shell suitcase and wanted it to look like it was a classic studio product shot.

Now, I only have two strobe lights but the lighting design I had in mind required four. As such, I ended up taking four different shot, moving my highlight strobe to a different position for each one, and then compositing them.

Here's my base image, lit with a silver umbrella to the camera right:

And here are three more images, each with its own highlight:

Click to enlarge

I composited the three highlight images in this manner:

With the highlights composited, I then had the task of removing the wear and tear (retouching my suitcase at 600% in Photoshop made me realize just how much it's been through), address label and red tape from the case. Once I'd completed that, I removed the case from its background and dropped it into a studio background.

The final product:

Monday, October 05, 2009

Work in the Wild!

Some recent work of mine is up in St. Pancras International station.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday Morning …

… and I'm busy. My desk is a huge mess, I've just finished taking some photos, and I've got a brochure on the go. Sounds like it's time to go to Broadway Market.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

More Type Outside My House

These may become part of a continuing series (previous post here). Left the house the other day and found this great hand-painted logo on the side of a truck bed.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Work in Progress: Unicycles

Busy, busy, busy! Here's a teaser from a recent photoshoot. More soon.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sweet Wheels

Came home the other day and found this awesome type parked outside my place.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Street Art

The British seem to put fences around everything. And they don't just put up cute little picket fences to divide property – they put up 10' tall iron fences/walls with razor wire/spikes at the top. As a Canadian used to wide open spaces, public parks and people's lawns butting up against each other, this strikes me as unnecessary and odd.

As I was walking home the other day, I realized I'm not the only one when I noticed this piece of street art. It made me laugh out loud.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Almond Tart

New photography at Curiosity and the Cupcake.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

50 Rock

Recently, I've been loving Tina Fey's new television series "30 Rock". Hilarious, witty, great writing and there seems to be a Star Wars reference in every episode. Anyway, it reminded me of this shot I took while there in November of 2007.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Words to Live By

Just some hand-rendered type, nice and large on A2.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


This one's part of an ongoing series that translates the voice-over from the trailers of classic Blaxploitation films into typographic posters. Soon to be limited-edition prints!

You can check out the series in full on Flickr.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Canadian Funny

click for series

The hilarious Mike Wood took the stage at the Hackney Empire the other night, and I took photos.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Work in Progress: Mr. Christopher

Been quiet around here recently. It's because I'm busy WORKING ON SECRET THINGS.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Girl in the Orange Coat

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Joy of Information

My copies of Nicholas Felton's annual reports arrived recently. Felton is one of the minds behind Daytum and his reports present the minutiae of daily life in brilliant, beautiful ways.

SVA has an interview with him.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Introducing: Soul-Glu!

Working a Terrible Soul-less Job for THE MAN?
Crippled by Fear of the Recession and UNEMPLOYMENT?
You need BRAND NEW and harmless SOUL-GLU!

This one started as a quick sketch just to keep myself from forgetting the concept. Then it got a little more detailed. Then it got scanned. Then the composition got tweaked in Photoshop. Then it got coloured. And now, here we are. One of these days, I'll take a screenprinting course, and make editions available. You know. As art. Very depressing art about losing one's soul to corporate drudgery.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

New work: Hand-drawn Type Book Cover

I'm a huge fan of Penguin Books, in no small part because of their fantastic design heritage. In fact, I own more than a few books about the Penguin's design process and their covers. Understandably, I was quite thrilled to discover that Penguin is now offering editions of classic books with blank covers, a promotion called My Penguin.

This past Christmas, for one of L's gifts, I drew up a cover for one of her favourite books, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Given that I've always known/ called the book "Alice in Wonderland" (doesn't everybody?), I designed the typography to reflect the more commonly known title.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Plight of a Designer

I've been really busy recently, partially because of situations like the one illustrated below.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Type Compositions: Livin' Large

This type piece was done early upon my arrival in London. Inspiration? Def Leppard's Let's Get Rocked and an empty bank account.

Monday, January 05, 2009

More Aloysius Skellington

Poor Aloysius Skellington. His rather ghoulish appearance seems to lead to the oddest misunderstandings on a regular basis. In this case, it would seem a rather impertinent monkey, despite a lack of demonstrable skill, has challenged him to a battle of fiddle-playing*.

*Silly Monkey. That's the devil.