In Miffy Memorandum

23.03.17

Total simplicity allows space for imagination, especially when it comes to children.

For the past year or so, our resident studio ‘waving’ cat has sat pride of place at the front window—beaming at the school kids that pass by our window each day. With the addition of a tiny red wool hat, she has become a well-known character in the neighbourhood. Kids line up each day to get their ‘waves’ in… and to throw tantrums when they don’t!

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Witnessing this ritual between child and cat captures just how easily something so simple can bring just that little bit of magic to those mini-people. It even inspired our resident ol’ softy Mr. Wallace (a former resident of Japan) to create our little lucky cat in illustrated form.

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Whether intentional or subconscious, Neil’s adorable drawing brings to mind the illustrious work of Dick Bruna—the creator and author behind the much loved character Miffy—who sadly passed away last month aged 89. Miffy’s genius lay in the intense simplicity of her features and the bright pops of primary colour used to bring her to life. These themes are beautifully reflected in Neil’s own illustration; red and gold being traditionally lucky colours and the large inquisitive eyes referencing the original design of the plastic figurine.

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In the spirit of keeping the magic going, we’ve given our wee cat a name: Bōshi, for the signature hat that she wears. Her illustrated self seems to embody a strong sense of character and realism, and the sticker version has certainly captured the attention of local youngsters (a bonus addition to their daily waving, they each now can claim a sticker as a reward).

Stay tuned for more Bōshi adventures, we’ve a feeling there might be a story or two to tell…

NTS Grows Up

17.03.17

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exterior photo: NTS

We were delighted to be invited down to the digs of one of our favourite collaborators—National Theatre of Scotland—and not just for the canapé, stiff gin pours and BrewDog beers (although that didn’t hurt). It was a thrill to see the new engine of Scottish theatre at work.

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We started in the bar, er, playroom, for some banter, and quickly moved on to explore the building.

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The new NTS rehearsal room is one of the biggest in Scotland, and inspires cartwheels and bellowing vocals upon entry.

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It was all eyes on the stunning costume department, which no longer operates from a small room and a parking lot.

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It was particularly exciting to get the low-down on how technicians set the mood and ‘paint’ with light.

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The props department was much more exciting than this, but leave it to a graphic designer to only take a photo of old oven dials.

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O Street was reunited with a leftover from our NTS collaboration Granite—always nice to see an old friend.

All told, NTS Rockvilla is a stunning display of creativity and production. Get down and see for yourself.

Kenema — Portrait of a School

13.03.17

Our long time pal and talented photographer Pete Dibdin recently held an exhibition down in London in aid of Swawou School Foundation.

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The foundation supports Swawou Layout Community Primary School for Girls and is based in Kenema, Sierra Leone. Set up in 2009 the foundation offers a free primary education to girls from disadvantaged homes. Pete has spent the last two years visiting Kenema and working on the project, documenting the community involved in the build in a series of truly arresting portraits.

The sitters include a wide variety of characters from the community in Kenema; from hands-on-hips students striking a pose to sweaty construction workers, shovels in hand.

The school has made a huge difference to the community and we were delighted to help Pete create fundraising items for the exhibition. We took a selection of his lovely prints and created sets of postcards available for sale on the evening of the event—miniature versions of the large-scale, limited edition work that was displayed on the walls.

The exhibition itself was a huge success, with three cases of red wine and two cases of white wine consumed and twelve boxes of mince pies mysteriously missing.

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More importantly than the alcohol consumption was the result of 9 large prints being sold, alongside 1 A2 print, 5 A4 prints and many a postcard sold, priced at £12 each. This means a fantastic total of £7,855 has been raised, which will go directly to the running of the school.

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You can get involved with the foundation by clicking here, where you can contribute towards sponsoring education for the young girls of Sierra Leone.

A massive thanks also goes to everyone at Law Business Research for sponsoring the school, the exhibition and providing a venue to showcase Pete’s work. The prints will remain up at Law Business Research to celebrate their continuous funding of the school.

– Tessa

Irresistible Trump Scrabble

08.02.17

All you need to protest Donald Trump is, well, Donald Trump. It goes for his character as well as his name. Download the kit here.

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So we drew DONALD TRUMP! in a typeface inspired by old-school civil rights signs and uploaded it here for you to download. If your Sharpies have gone dry just keep these files on hand and print, cut, protest.

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We’ll also make requests of any digital posters, so hit us up with your best Trump scrabble job and we’ll send it to you!

Disclaimer: this post was written by a natural-born American citizen. Please post any complaints here.

Advertising Wasteland — photography by Adam Frint

04.01.17

Chicago-based photographer and designer Adam Frint has an amazing eye for geometry in urban spaces. We’re particularly drawn to his photographs of empty billboards; a not-so-subtle visual allegory for our times.

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We asked Adam about his series. “For me, these images represent a moment in time that have now become an ongoing obsession. In Chicago, like most big cities, billboards have always been a big part of visual “white noise”. And as a designer, I have also contributed to that white noise throughout my career.

When the financial crisis hit in 2008, I saw more of these blank billboards appear overnight, changing up the morning commute; bold geometric shapes captured my attention. Stark white, black and sometimes grey voids beautifully contrasted the busy, ornate and sometimes dirty facades or sides of buildings. I noticed the correlation between less advertising spending at work, and through conversations with friends in the advertising industry.

As a photographer, I was compelled to explore the Chicagoland area and venture further out into different neighborhoods. The Billboard Series started in 2008 and grew between 2009–2010 when advertising budgets started to fall. Only time will tell how the series will evolve as social media and digital advertising change the way companies advertise.”

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If you ask us, white rectangles beat out ugly ads for dogfood and toothpaste. See the full project here.

Season’s Greetings from Nunraw (and O Street)

12.12.16

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A graphic scavenge through a curious old bookshop yielded this treasure: bits of 1980s Christmas programmes from the Sancta Maria Abbey in Nunraw.

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From a graphic standpoint, it’s a goldmine: digitised black letter typography (which we redrew for our Christmas letters, printed by Risotto), forgotten photography and lo-fi print techniques we tend to drool over these days.

The best this find has to offer though, are the stories. There’s a bookie who became a prior. In 1985, the guesthouse received a dish wash-up unit. Best (or worst) of all, there’s the story of Father Gerr Lynch.

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“Fr Lynch of the Cathedral stayed at the guesthouse while waiting for a place in the a retirement home. He was celebrating his farewell Mass. In the introduction said it was his ‘swan song’, he asked pardon of everyone for his short-comings, gave a homily concluding with a short consecration to Our Lady and at the Communion carefully placed the chalice back on the altar and collapsed and died. He was indeed prepared and could not have asked for a better re-routing of that day’s journey to his new home.”

This Christmas, we’re raising a glass to Father Lynch. If only we’d be so lucky as to drop dead moving type around a screen. Season’s Greetings and lots of love from the O Street family.