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Echoes – Week 3 (Sep 6, 2009)

posted by Matt Ward on Sep 6, 2009.

Echoes: Week 3 – September 6, 2009. This is the third edition of my weekly Echoes posts, in which I feature some of the best work that I have found on the web. Features one logo, one piece of art, one tutorial and one website.

Well, it’s been a good week overall. I’ve wrapped up two projects over the last few days – both the wine labels for my brother’s wedding and the new logo design for Cameron Shaver: Digital Media Solutions. I’ve also seen a very strong, proportional increase in traffic on this blog, topping out with a major spike early in the week. The hits have sort of leveled out a bit now, but I’m still pretty happy with the way things are going.

I’ve also had some dialogue with a few other blogs, and it looks like I will be having some guest posts on some other sites, which I am super excited about. I’ll let you know about any such developments as they happen.

I also seem to have created a bit of a theme for this week’s Echoes. With the exception of the selected logo, everything has at least something to do with watercolour, which is something I really dig. I’ve always really enjoyed the look of watercolour paintings, so this is a really cool theme for me.

Logo – Coffee Cup

Like I mentioned, the logo is the only part of the post that doesn’t really fit the theme. I did a bit of looking, but didn’t really come up with any logos that really made use of a watercolour effect. Instead, I present this cool Coffee Cup logo, by Jan Zábranský

Coffee Cup Logo

Coffee Cup Logo

The thing I really like about this piece is the way it cleverly fuses type and symbol. The two F’s raise up like smoke from the cup (obviously), and I think that this is a great example of making effective use of context. On their own, the rising swirls only vaguely resemble F’s, and would probably not be understood as such. However, when surrounded by the rest of the letters and the implied meaning of the symbol itself, the swirls suddenly take on different meaning. As such, while they are a cool and interesting part of the logo, their meaning is implicated directly in their context. Very clever.

Art – Matsuri

In high school, I was one of those kids who really like Anime, at least for a couple of years. Over time, though, I think I’ve become somewhat disillusioned by the style as a whole. In many ways, I think that it has lost much of its original charm. Rather than an artistic expression of a particular culture, it has, by and large, been hacked and copied and manipulated to the point where it means little more than impossibly huge eyes, tiny pointed noses and bright, often spiky hair.

I am, however, still something of sucker for those seemingly rare instances where an Anime piece does not seem to exist simply for its own sake, but rather an expression of creativity or emotion that just happens to use the something of the Anime form. Ein Lee‘s “Matsuri” strikes me as just such a piece.

Ein Lee's Matsuri

Ein Lee's Matsuri

There’s no doubt about the fact that this piece is an Anime piece. You can see it in the eyes and the nose, in the lips and the slender shaping of the shoulders. Yet, while I find that so much of the current Anime is clean and polished, there is a kind of rawness to this piece, a sort of grunginess that speaks to a truer and deeper emotion.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me being a sucker for watercolour, but this piece really captured my attention and my imagination. The figure is distinct (and exceptionally rendered), but the environment remains conspicuously abstract. The emotion is obvious, yet it is given no context. This makes it both more widely universal and strangely mysterious.

All in all, I really, really love this piece – especially the really unique why that the artist worked the hair – and I sincerely hope to see more art of this quality!

Tutorial – Create a Nature Inspired Painted Background in Photoshop

Now, if you’ve been inspired by Lee’s work, and are would like to try your hand at a bit of watercolouring, without necessarily having to go and buy all of the traditional supplies, this week’s tutorial might be just up your alley! We are turning to Design Revivier, where we find a tutorial all about how to use some Photoshop watercolour brushes to create a cool, nature inspired website.

Create a Nature Inspired Painted Background in Photoshop

Create a Nature Inspired Painted Background in Photoshop

This works really well, I think, because it makes use of a general watercolour feel, which I clearly like. I also think that the nature theme really works well too because, at least in my mind, the watercolour medium has a strong connection with landscape painting. So, it just seems like a really natural technique to turn to when working with a nature inspired design.

Another great part of this tutorial is the way that it establishes it’s colour palette from the beginning. You’re not always going to want to approach a website this way, but I think it’s a really great technique for helping to keep a design and its process focused. This is especially true for projects and clients where colour plays a big part of the branding. Starting off with a colour palette can also be a great way to stimulate your own creativity, by seeing what kinds of ideas and inspiration flow out of the colours themselves.

This is actually a fairly short tutorial, so I would recommend going and having a short read. You may find that includes something really useful for you.

Website – Agami Creative

This week’s selected website almost looks as though it might have been inspired by this week’s tutorial! I’m sure it’s a complete coincidence, and more just a matter of my head being in a particular space when I was gathering this week’s selections, but I still think it’s an interesting connection.

Agami Creative

Agami Creative

The landscape on this one is a bit more abstract that our tutorial, but it still has that kind of grungy watercolour feel, and still works with a very neutral colour palette. Altogether, the site has a wonderfully unified feel to it, with seemingly just the right number of tiny embellishments to help give the impression that the site had been very carefully crafted.

As a company, Agami Creative seems pretty darned cool, too. From what I can gather on their website, they are a creative firm dedicated to helping out organizations dedicated to bringing change. To quote from their website:

Agami Creative provides online marketing and technology solutions to companies and organizations who bring about change in their communities and the world. Get in touch with us today and find out how our team can help bring your vision to life.

I always really respect designers and other creative professionals who support worthy causes with their talent! It helps make the world a better place. On that note, though, I just have to share one of Agami’s more recent tweets, which I found absolutely hilarious!

Debating if I should reply to the RFP for a breast implant donation site. Seriously ppl, do you even read our site? Free boobs ≠ good cause.

I honestly laughed when I read this!

Anyhow, that pretty much wraps up this week’s Echoes. I hope you enjoyed the selections, and the loose watercolour theme. I certainly won’t have a theme every single week, but it’s probably something that I will do when the chance presents itself.

It’s late now. I’m tired. I’m going to bed. Catch you in my next post.

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About the Author

Matt Ward is a digital artist who lances freely under the moniker of Echo Enduring Media, and specializes in graphics design, illustration and writing. He is also the Creative Director for Highland Marketing, a creative direct marketing company based out of Waterloo, Ontario. You can follow Matt on Twitter

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