Lifeboats Packaging by Supafrank

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) not only saves lives at sea, but also has great taste when it comes to design. This project was for the confectionary line of RNLI. They wanted to update their brand and broaden their appeal, so they hired design studio Supafrank to refresh their look.

To get the feeling of a beautiful day by the sea, SupaFrank’s designer Vicki Turner “visualized the British seaside using various scenarios and nostalgic elements that are simplistic, positive and coherent across the range.” The outcome was fun nautical illustrations that truly speak to the nostalgia of life by the sea. The icons and elements are playful and simple with the limited color palette and frequent use of patterns throughout the line. It really throws us back to living in Boston and spending time by the water listening to the waves and eating beach snacks like the ones in this confection line.

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Every so often we receive emails from talented folks who enjoy our Brave Blog so much, they want to share their work with us. Sadly we can’t feature them all, so if we do feature their work, you better believe we are excited to share it. So let us introduce you to the illustration work of Jacob Souva.

Jacob earned his BFA degree in illustration. And coming from two artistic parents, he felt it only natural to go into a field such as illustration. Being further influenced by the books he grew up enjoying as a kid, he finds himself creating worlds and characters saturated with color and full of rich textures. His use of digital collage to fill in his shapes add just enough complexity and depth to his work that it truly jumps off the page.

No doubt, with his passion and talent for illustrating for children, we will hear much more of his name soon. He is available for new work, so go check out the rest of his portfolio at his site, Two Fish Illustration.

Jacob Souva of Two Fish Illustration

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We can’t get enough these illustrations by French artist Marc Boutavant. He created a series of illustrations titled “Train Puzzle” which is an imaginative world where animals run and have their own train cars. His characters and their environment are so creative and each feel like they could be their own story.

Marc Boutavant is an illustrator represented by Heart Agency. His characters have so much personality which he attributes to his observation of friends, family, and kids. Though from Burgundy, Boutavant now lives in Paris, France. His portfolio includes many unique characters and their equally unique, interesting and lovely worlds.

Marc Boutavant Train Puzzle

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Kenichi Eco Parlor Throw

 

Alexander Girard Porcelain Plates

Edible Zen Garden

Ellen Giggenbach Geometric Paper Bowl 

Mid-Century Swedish kilim by Brita Grahn
Nicholas John Frith LAGOM Design Greeting Cards

Friday Likes

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Packaging is like a book cover, and even though the phrase is “never judge a book by its cover,” it’s hard not to. That is why good packaging, like Makers and Merchants’, is so successful; it makes you believe that whatever is on the inside of the jar or box is of as high of quality as it’s “cover” suggests.

Makers and Merchants hired design studio Horse to create the packaging for their food and houseware products. Their products come from artisan sources and the challenge was to fit their high standards of everything being “handpicked…sources, selected, made and crafted with some of the world’s best artisans…[to] form a collection of the finest goods.” That tall order led to packaging that used creative type to showcase each product uniquely, while sticking with a simple bold color palette that makes the brand cohesive and work together as whole despite in the individuality of the type on each product. This packaging really speaks for itself.

Makers & Merchants Packaging

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The Mad Men era did some pretty cool work when it comes to advertising. These ads for Rand Mcnally Co. are no exception. They were created by artist Marce Mayhew, a creative working in New York City advertising in that era.

He did an incredible job mixing geometric architectural elements with the maps themselves. His use of bold bright colors and patterns is surprising and refreshing, and brings more interest to the maps. They were each featured in Graphis Annual, one in the 54/55 issue and the other in the 57/58 issue.

 

Marce Mayhew Rand McNally Ads

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[Image Source]

Never before have we had the privilege of interviewing an individual as renowned and influential as Dahlov Ipcar. You could imagine our surprise when we found out that not only could we get in contact with her, but she was willing to answer a few of our questions as well! And now we get have the pleasure of sharing her words of wisdom with all of you.

I first want to mention that we connected with Dahlov through her son, Robert. Who graciously took the time to relay our questions on to his mother and get back to us. He told us that despite that fact that Dahlov is 96 years old, she is still taking interviews and painting everyday! She is living proof that creatives never really retire.

Though her work needs no introduction, I will give her one anyways. Out of the many illustrators throughout history that I admire the most, Dahlov’s work remains near the top of my list. Her stylization of animals, and ingenious use of bold, minimal color palettes is inspiring. She was born in 1917 and grew up in New York. Both her parents were prolific artist’s themselves with her mother, Marguerite Zorach, a painter, and her father, William Zorach, a sculptor. Highly influenced and encouraged by her parent’s work, she began painting at an early age. As she excelled and progressed, receiving many honors and awards for her paintings, she found her way into illustrating children’s books as well. At first only illustrating, and then writing and illustrating. Over her lifetime she has written and illustrated a total of 33 children’s books, not including her young adult novels. Her artwork continues to inspire children and adults alike even today.

Her is our interview with Dahlov Ipcar and some of her selected works:

How did advances in technology throughout your life affect your illustration style? 

With the exception of one of my very last children’s books, “The Wonderful Christmas Tree”, I used to make “color separations” of all my artwork – that is, create a black on transparent acetate rendering of each of three or four individual colors that went to make up the whole. My publishers initially attempted to make me pay for all the color separations they jobbed out so I learned to do my own. Now everything is done by laser scans, though the just released reprint of “I Like Animals” by Flying Eye Press was rescanned to emulate the long lost original color separations. Otherwise, brushes and canvas haven’t changed much over time.

I can see evidence of your parents’ artistic style manifest in your own work. How was growing up under two prolific artists for parents? How did they influence your work?

As I look back on it, my mother, the painter Marguerite Zorach, had a tremendous influence. She had a sense of stylized design that caught your eye, especially the amount of detail found in her embroideries of flowers and animals. However I owe my father, the sculptor William Zorach, my sense of three-dimensional perspective. He was a direct carver and created any number of stone animal sculptures from dogs to cats to guinea pigs.

 

What inspired the change in your style from more realism at the beginning, to the colorful, geometric and modern style you pursued later on? 

For a while I painted what was around me, “Social Realism” it was called. I backed off from abstract expressionism when it came along and tried to find my own path, find a stylized rather than realistic way to portray the animals that I loved – a vision perhaps influenced by cubism. Then I experimented with cloth sculptures of animals, keeping my eye open for printed cloth whose pattern evoked a wildlife counterpart. After that I was inspired to try a collage entitled The Garden of Eden, which led to my children’s book, “Calico Jungle”. Now my paintings are sometimes described as “kaleidoscope”, animals in motion against flowing planes of light.

What made you want to start illustrating books for children?

Just before I married in 1936, a friend of my mother’s asked me to illustrate a work of hers but nothing ever came of it. But I enjoyed the process immensely. It was my former teachers who gave me a boost. At the Lincoln School at Teacher’s Collage (a high school) our librarian, Anne Thaxter Eaton, really loved the art I was turning out. It didn’t hurt that she was an art reviewer for the New York Times as well. But it was through a teacher at Greenwich Village’s City & Country School (a grade school), Ellen Stelle, that I made contact with William R. Scott publications who was looking for young artists with a modern flare. They offered me Margaret Wise Brown’s “Little Fisherman” to illustrate. I went on to illustrate two other books for authors then decided that if I wrote my own stories, I could get to do the pictures I wanted. “Animal Hide & Seek” was the very first of my 33 books as author/illustrator.

How did you develop your own personal style? What practices did you use to better your illustration skills?

It just developed but I’ve always admired simplicity of vision like you might find in Japanese prints or cave paintings. I was drawn to the work of  illustrator Feodore Rogankovsky who did the beautiful “Tall Mother Goose” series. But as a rule, I didn’t follow other people; didn’t follow trends. I just kept experimenting until I was comfortable with what I was doing.

 

Composing pages to have both the text and imagery feel harmonious, and creating good pacing between pages is a difficult task. What was your process for composing the layout for your children’s books?

I just learned to estimate how much space the text would take to work with the visuals which were usually strung across a double page. I would do sketches on paper and have certain fonts in mind. Both the text and the visuals should tell the story equally. However it annoyed me to no end that publishers always bought the text first; were less interested in the artwork initially.

How did writing fit in with your creative process? Was it something that inspired your artwork, or vice versa?

My artwork inspired my written text no mater what the publishers thought. However a few of my books were verse driven. “The Cat Came Back”,” I Love my Ant Eater with an “A”” were from folk songs and street games. “Bright Barnyard”; “Day Birds & Night Birds” and “Whisperings & Other Things” were all original verse. I also wrote several YA novels, such as “Dark Horn Blowing” and “The Warlock of Night”. Here text was all-important as there was no illustration beside the cover. Here the challenge was to create your visuals in words.

 

Looking at children’s books today, do you feel there is a decline in the quality of the art? If so, what do you feel is lacking? 

I’m quite opinionated on this subject. Most illustration that’s out there has been dreadful for the past fifteen years or so: cartoony, messy realism best describes it. My own illustration feeds the story line in a simple manner: ”Cat At Nigh”t for instance was about shape recognition; where you first see the cat’s tail silhouetted against the outline of a garden at night, then a page turn reveals everything lit up and in full color as a cat would see it in the dark. I’m lucky that those who now review children’s books rejoice in my artwork. I now have Islandport Press, Down East Books and Flying Eye Press in the UK reprinting my children’s books at the rate of one or two a year.

For all the illustrators who are trying to get into children’s book illustration, what advice would you give them? 

Sometime I feel I “don’t know nothing no more” when it comes to giving advice about how to break into illustrating. Selling a story that you yourself have illustrated is one way but it’s not easy either. You need to have faith in yourself; create for no one but yourself even in the face of petty criticism. 

Networking has always been important and now the word has taken on a whole new meaning. I’m no expert of “social media” – don’t even have a connection though I write on an iMac – but I’m constantly amazed at the number of so called “views” I get when my children and grandchildren report back to me whenever something new is posted on my Facebook page. Some combination of all the above might be the answer.

Today you can find some of her work in the Met and the Whitney. And her work is still appreciated and relevant as it was in the mid-century era. Companies like Flying Eye Books, are now re-mastering, and once again reproducing, her classic children’s books! They are created with the same care and four spot-color printing quality as the originals.

Our Interview with Dahlov Ipcar

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Seeing the work of Robert Tavener reminds me how much I wish I took a printmaking course in college. There is just something about the gritty, imperfect nature of printmaking that makes it special. And it truly takes a true craftsman and an artist to pull something off as beautiful as these.

Robert had over 50 years of working experience in linocut and lithography. He paired is talent for illustration with his printmaking, creating works full of bright color, rich textures, and beautiful patterns. Most common of his works were landscapes the countryside and architecture of his home in England.

I am inspired by his stunning use of color and composition. For all the marks and elements he has added, his works should feel incredibly busy like many other prints. But he knew how to arrange each piece in just a way that made you feel like everything is completely necessary. He passed away in 2004, but his amazing legacy will surely live on.

Master Printmaker Robert Tavener

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Kites Screen Printed Cotton Cushion

 

Alita Hanging Lamp

Serena Mitnik Miller Graphic Blocks

Animate Bedside Table

Charles Eames Vintage Giant House of Cards

Housewarming Invitations and Moving Announcements

Friday Likes

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We are loving this character concept work, Skagen Dash, from Dag Haile. Den Skagen Dash is an illustration and character designs of a story about a small harbor village that holds an annual boat race. Each of the unique dock shops designs boats for the race. It sounds like a fun story, and something I’d definitely like to hear more of. There is so much imagination in these characters and the world that Haile has created, it would be fun to see it all come to life.

Skagen Dash by Dag Haile

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Embroidery is not a medium you often see used to create works of abstract minimalist art. Artist Takashi Iwasaki has broken past the usual borders of embroidery, to create his abstract work. He uses bright embroidery floss to create abstract objects, patterns, and images that seem almost dream induced.

Iwasaki not only works with embroidery, but also paintings, collages, abbies, sculptures and drawings. His artist statement gives more insight to his work:

“Most of my recent works are either visual recording of my daily life or visualization of my imaginary worlds or landscapes that no one would see unless otherwise depicted. They may appear to be abstract on the surface, but most shapes and colors have meanings and origins that are very significant to me in the way I feel them, therefore they are very representational and are reflection of my state of mind. Things that I feel are never the same in the next moment because I keep changing.  Capturing moments and sharing my visions with others have been my recent obsession and pleasure.”

Takashi Iwasaki Embroidery

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