A Work Trip With Porpoise

25.09.19

At O Street, few things are held in such mythical regard as the annual fishing trip. Chaotic to organise, usually involving rain, and in danger of being overhyped, it is a trip held close to all of our hearts (and brains). It’s a chance to put the tools down, pick the rods up, and spend time with your work colleagues doing anything but work.

Having just returned from another successful voyage out onto Loch Fyne with the same number of team members that we left with, we can share some snaps (sorry mackerel, too soon) and our arthouse holiday video edit as is tradition.

First things first, stock up on fish catching fuel at Fyne Ales. We popped by and picked up some old faithfuls (Easy Trail & Workbench), as well as a keg of Hopsmuggler, a limited run West Coast Pale Ale done in collaboration with Little Thistle Brewing Co. Safe to say it was DELICIOUS and quite possibly unfairly portioned amongst the O team (I’m sorry it was just too tasty).

With the admin out the way, time to get out on that sea loch my dudes! Rods in hand, boat in water, hope in hearts; we set out to catch some mackerz.

Our main goal was to catch some mackerel for the crackerel, but nature had more to offer! A smorgasbord of Scottish sea-life was presented before us! Seals belly-chased us from their island to the middle of the bay, cormorants swooped nearby, a pod of porpoises came to say hello (we didn’t take any pictures but it was definitely because we live in the moment and definitely not because we tried to take a picture and took a blurry video instead). Last but not least, Tessa caught a MASSIVE starfish! Look at that sucker!

We chucked Patrick back in the water, and continued on the hunt for McMackerel. After another hour or so, we took back a tidy haul. There’s really only one thing you should do when you are gifted some fresh lads from the fish kingdom: sushi. It would be rude not to.

It was truly a nourishing time, belly-wise and soul-wise. Ended in true O Street fashion, with a dubious jam session round the log-fire. As we know, when you pair any black and white footage with a borderline upsetting rendition of a folk song, you have yourself an arthouse production. So please, enjoy our short film, and take care.

 

— Jonny

 

The Bonnie Neon Signs of Denver’s Bonnie Brae

23.07.19

You’re walking along on a hot summer day and feel a craving coming on. The ‘ol sweet tooth. Panicked, with your very survival at stake, your eyes search for the first hit of sugar available. If you’re a mile within Bonnie Brae Ice Cream in Denver you’re in luck, because you’ll see this sign from a distance:

If you’re into visually rich signage, a quick scan of South Denver neighborhood Bonnie Brae will give you the feels. It sure did for us. We are a design studio born in Scotland that’s since moved out West, with an affinity for vintage visual culture.Therefore, we love stumbling on visual gems that tie us to home.

…And tied to home it is. Surprisingly, this hood isn’t called Bonnie Brae (“pleasant hill” in Gaelic) for nothing. According to the neighborhood’s historical record, it got its name when a 1920’s developer “strived to recreate the aura of peaceful Scottish village in Denver”. Tissue, please. We’re crying.

The neons are lit and the ice cream is handmade. So, what could be better? For designers who love to incorporate neon into logotypes ourselves (like our logo for Pretend Lovers above), nothing. Want to talk about getting your own bonnie neon sign or logo? You can sit down with us at Bonnie Brae Tavern, established in 1934.

O Street, buy me a pizza.

PARTY ON, WEANS

09.07.19

The Design Weans (Glasgow’s arm of global supernetwork The Design Kids) have put on another exhibition, and it’s an absolute corker.

Among the creative whipper-snappers exhibiting are creative duo Clubhouse Paradiso, ceramicist Ruth Mae Martin, illustrator Oscar Mitchell, and our very own designer Jonny Mowat (below).

‘CALIFORN-I-ATE’ is Jonny’s tribute to all the food that ‘stayed with him’ after his trip to the Golden State last year (we get it bro, you’ve been to America).

As well as the A2 giclee print on show at WEANS WORLD, he’s also made a batch of A3, 3-colour RISO prints, available for sale here (or at an even cheaper price if bought at the exhibition), expertly printed by our CRUSH buddy Friends in the Dungeon.

WEANS WORLD enters its final weekend this weekend (12th July – 14th July 2019, 12pm-5pm), so shimmy your heinies down to 16 Nicholson Street and show your support.

Also if you are very lucky, you might be able to grab the last of these bodacious hats.

Japan’s Extra-ordinary Everyday Design

14.06.19

What we think of as ‘ordinary’ in graphic design (the road signs, the brand logos etc.) often become ‘extra-ordinary’ when viewed by someone from a different part of the world.

During a recent trip to Japan, whilst most folks were taking photos of sunsets and locals wearing traditional kimonos, I spent my time photographing drain covers and empty drinks cans.

Sad, I know, but for all you design geeks out there, here is a selection of my favourites:

Every little thing is Japan is so visually rich, you can be forgiven missing the forest for the trees. Maybe next time I’ll notice the temples and landscapes.
– David

Eastern Seaboard On An Ontarian Skateboard

29.05.19

After exploring the Land of the Free’s West Coast last year, I went back to check out its Eastern offerings. Skateboarding through the locations mentioned above meant that I got to fill my eyes with more visual curiosities than you could shake a stick at.

If there’s one thing America knows, it’s good eatin’. The way they advertise it ain’t too shabby, either. Nobody knows what the future of branding will hold, but personally my main hope is for a resurgence of funky, food-based mascots. There is nothing more tee-friendly than a bagel wearing sneakers. A hand-made, vintage aesthetic works great for a lot of things, but probably works best for food & drink businesses in making them look like a trusted, ‘Mom & Pop’ establishment.

In Toronto I visited the AGO, which is humongous and filled with inspiring art. I was introduced to many Canadian artists, such as Lawren Harris (top left, top right). The shading and colours in his landscapes are just the best. I’m in good company here, as he’s one of Steve Martin’s favourite artists. The fierce Arctic explorer (bottom right) was painted by the gloriously named Dutch-Canadian artist Cornelius Krieghoff. The AGO has been making efforts to expand their collection of work by indigenous artists, such as Pitaloosie Saila who created the lithograph ‘Smoke Rings’ (bottom left). Last but not least, we have William Kurelek’s ‘The Batchelor’—his own spelling—in the middle. It’s my favourite out of all the art I saw and is filled with random little humorous details, like a discarded shoe sitting on a copy of the Catholic Times. You can’t write that stuff.

A spontaneous visit to a friend’s Grandma’s house on Canadian Mother’s Day led to us perusing her collection of vintage matchbooks, gathered over the past 60 years or so. “Why the heck are you interested in these?” Because it’s a freakin’ goldmine is why! The 3rd matchbook on the top row is a wedding favour, which apparently was quite common back in the days of mass tobacco consumption. Why can’t we just have more matchbooks for the sake of having more matchbooks? Matches were cool before cigarettes came along and will be cool long after the tobacco empire has been torn down!

As the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball, Boston’s Fenway Park is a treasure trove of Americana. They’ve done a great job of keeping their old-school aesthetic without being kitschy. It’s almost worth paying $12 for a schooner of Bud Light. All of the Red Sox merchandise has doubled down on their vintage logotypes and icons, which is exactly how we would do it if we were asked (please somebody ask us).

I was going to show you the skateboard graphic on the board I bought in Toronto, but I just shred the gnar too gosh-darn hard. The graphic is scattered across various rails and curbs on the Eastern Seaboard, on some sort of spiritual journey.

Another trip to the States, another pair of satisfied eyeballs. We love real-world inspiration here at O Street, so if you have any travel gems tweet them to us. Our OSA correspondent Josh is always up for a chat, so if you are US-based and want to work with us, drop him a line: josh@ostreet.co.uk

—Jonny

Five takeaways from the Craft Brewers Conference

30.04.19

As you might have heard, we don’t just drink beer. No, our relationship with the beautiful brew is much deeper than that. You might call it our muse. But our inspiration doesn’t just come from guzzling the stuff down—we also take to putting ourselves in the shoes of brewers to better serve them.

So when the Craft Brewers Conference came to Denver, our resident American put on his coolest hat and braved the booths to see what’s happening in the industry. Here are our five takeaways from #CBC2019:


1 Ingredients matter.

The Denver Convention Center is a scary big place and the floor was crawling with farmers and salespeople pushing hops and barley. With the big names in craft brewing now available in Colorado supermarkets and ever-increasing consumer consciousness, brewers have got to be picky with what they put in their beer. The moustached dude dropping $6 for a can at his local shop cares where those hops come from and we designers need to help brewers put that information front-and-center.


2 The merch game has transcended simple branding.

In an overwhelming space, it was Brist MFG’s booth that really caught our eye—and for good reason. Their quality hats (given away for free!) and 90s throw-back Hawaiian shirts, gave off relaxed, too-cool vibes in an otherwise sterile space. Think about how this applies to your brewery’s merchandise: cheap logo t-shirts are no longer enough. Felt baseball caps, real flannels, technical hoodies and other quality wares should be in your future if you want today’s consumers to hit the town sporting your logo.


3 Quality print finishes are still the exception.

Surprisingly, quality still doesn’t seem to be the norm with packaging. Although some craft brewers work with artists and designers to push boundaries, most of what we saw on the floor at CBC was pushing efficient but uninteresting print finishes and can wraps. Just like with fine food, you don’t simply experience it with your taste buds. You also drink it in with your eyes and feel it with your hands. As long as you can work within the bounds of regulations, it looks like there’s plenty of room in the craft space to do something special with packaging.


4 Look up from your phone.

It’s the bane of our times, isn’t it? We met some amazing people, formed meaningful business connections and learned a lot in just a couple hours at CBC. One interaction really stands out though: one that didn’t happen. A company threw a lot of money at a booth, only to be squandered by their representatives sitting down to stare at their phones (they were middle-aged men, by the way, don’t blame the millennials). This is less about brewing than a general reminder that engagement is a human phenomenon and nobody is safe from apathy if you let it waltz in through the front door.


5 There’s just a LOT going on.

Hops. Barley. Water. Kegs. Cleaning systems. Brewing technology. Label printing. Regulations. In-house canning. Marketing. Merchandise. Branding. Sustainability. Brewing is not a simple endeavor; you could spend three days at CBC and still fall well short of stopping by every booth. It’s sort of like running a brewery, actually: there’s just more to do than you have time for. So, pick your battles and delegate what you can. May we humbly suggest design?