Gathering Inspiration

19.11.21

Where do you find your inspiration?

Here at O Street we like to tackle it with a bit of fresh air. For years, we’ve been keeping our eyes open for visual oddities out-and-about, then sharing them in an aptly named collection: Ospiration. It comes in many forms: the typography on a takeaway menu, a brick wall covered in peeling posters and graffiti, book covers, foreign registration plates, scattered light on a city skyline. Even some quote-unquote old junk found in the attic can be creative fuel (see: Label O’ Love).

Some of our favourite pieces of Ospiration take the shape of aged shop signs, with their effortlessly timeless typographic flair, weathered paint and battered colours that have faded over time. We’re surrounded by a rich history of design, with creative beauty wherever you go.

If you’re ever feeling uninspired, taking your eyes for a walk can do wonders. To get you started, take a look at a few of our top bits of Ospiration collected over the years:

Love in the Time of Corona

20.04.20

An ongoing list of things getting team O Street through the days of COVID-19 quarantine

Know your trees, they deserve it!

I’ve been trying to up my Grandad skills during Lockdown. These are the things I feel it’s my responsibility to know by the time I’m a Grandad, and being able to identify trees is definitely one of those.

Inspired in part by Tessa’s post, I bought an old Observer’s book of British Trees online for £6, and have been flashing my new knowledge to my uninterested friends ever since. Trees are important, and in increasingly virtual times, trees are a real bastion of physicality and permanence. Besides, your imaginary future grandchildren will thank you for it.

-George

Release the Bats

I may be channeling my inner goth but I have a soft spot for bats. Like fireflies and silver birch, they are things of wonder. On odd slow evenings of lockdown, their antics have moved me to poetry. Sorry about that.

Sleek imperceptibles are back

Instantaneously around and past my window

At this height they are in their city element

Dancing

Weaving splendour

Glimpsed only at the bank of a turn TV slowed

You will crash into me

Then graceful a halt

Away

Where I used to hear in the child woods

Insanely fast at the back of your head

And fragments of mayfly bent

Tiny pips squeaks chatter rattle

Sadly I no longer detect

Old sounds

Out of old range

Leaves

Just a black dizzy blur

Quick

Beautiful

And gone

Tarred

To the back of mine eyes

— Neil

MOM I CAN’T SAVE, IT’S ONLINE

When I was in secondary school, there was a period where I played a lot of Halo 3. There was a group of us who strived to make the time between saying goodbye to each other at school and greeting each other on Sandtrap (the best Halo 3 map don’t even argue) as short as possible. This period of life is long gone, as other things just took precedent, such as pubs and the great outdoors.

Turns out as soon as those are taken away again, I’m back to shooting strangers with friends, and it has been an extremely comforting form of escapism. Apex Legends is the game that has stolen my heart, and too much of my time, perfectly riding the line between ‘challenging enough to make a win feel just fantastic’ and ‘really fun gameplay that makes it enjoyable to play regardless of skill or lack thereof’. This is great when you lose 98% of the matches you play, and what’s even better is when you are losing all those matches with GOOD FRIENDS.

– Jonny

Crafty Carving

“Every year since moving to Glasgow, Jason has cycled round the Isle of Cumbrae for his birthday. We couldn’t go this year, for obvious reasons, so I made a wooden representation of the island (and local seals)for him.”

Anna has been carving wonderful creations. Follow her magic over on Instagram @annalisedunn, and get inspired to get a saw for yourself!

– Anna (sort of)

The Super Smooth & Soothing Sounds of Hiroshi Yoshimura

A pioneer of Japanese ambient music, Hiroshi Yoshimura perfectly blended minimal electronic music with babbling brooks and singing birds. It’s exactly what you need right now. Trust me.

As a starting point, listen through his best regarded on Spotify, settle into a chill evening with the perfect track Dance PM, or melt into the floor to the sound of my personal favorite, Quiet Forest.

– Josh

Freer Bros. Decade Playlists

As the most competitive four brothers this side of the Clyde, the Freer brothers have combined two lockdown clichés into one epic battle: online quizzes and playlists.

For the past four weeks we’ve agreed a decade and each voted for our fave song in each year, then all voted on the final ten at the end of the week. We’ve limited ourselves to choosing an artist only once a decade (no need to create another Bob Dylan greatest hits playlist!) and have scrapped it out on a zoom call if there is a draw on any years.

I’d like to say I have dominated each playlist, but there is no account for taste, and even my misspelling of the songs on the Google form (bonus points if you spot the deliberate mistake in the pic) is not influencing their decisions. We’re back in the Seventies this week, what a freakin’ decade, the Beatles’ last album and the Cure’s first. Hell, this is gonna be hard!

(Message me if you want me to send you any of the winning playlists!)

– David

Letterboxd

It’s likely that right now you’re watching more movies than you’ve ever watched since the days of first year uni where you’d crush a couple DVDs over your morning bowl(s) of Frosted Wheaties. It’s also easier than ever, with a new streaming service to pour your cash into every couple of weeks.

To make the most of this new frontier of home cinema, we need recommendations from trusted sources so that we don’t accidentally watch all of Sandler’s back catalogue. Letterboxd.com is a social media platform created solely for watching, logging, loving, dissing, researching, scrolling and bragging about films.

And I love it! I’ve watched loads of stuff I’d never even think about if it wasn’t for a glowing review by a trusted Letterboxd follow. Get it! Follow me! @jmowatstuff! I follow back!!!!!

– Jonny

Those Quirky Old Observer’s Books

With green spaces surrounding my new rural dwelling, my latest screen distraction takes the form of bird watching. My dad gifted me this observers book of birds when I was 8, but it’s been dormant and forgotten during my years of city living.

Now in lockdown, taking a bit of time in the morning with this book and the binoculars is giving me a new appreciation for the flow of little lives , of changing seasons and the consistency of nature that is always shifting, always moving forwards.

– Tessa

‘I got blisters on my fingers!!!’

I’ve taken this enforced lockdown as a chance to sit down and learn a new tune on the guitar. Inspired after listening to the soundtrack to Devs (see previous inspiration!) I’ve been following some YouTube tutorials to learn how to fingerpick Guinnevere by Crosby, Stills & Nash.

YouTube is amazing for guitar tutorials, I wish I had had it as a teenager. Not blessed with perfect pitch or a good ear, I don’t know how the hell else I would have worked out David Crosby’s fiendish picking pattern or guitar tuning.

Not sure my wife was too happy with the first two days repeating the first three notes for hours, but now I have the pattern down, its sounding pretty good. Just need my fingertips to heal up a bit!

– David

Living on the Earth

“This book is for people who would rather chop wood than work behind a desk”.

I stumbled upon (literally, I found it outside) this 1970 hand-written and illustrated hippie classic by Alicia Bay Laurel and it’s been a magic ride lazily picking through it on sun-baked afternoons. Touching on everything from backpacking to gardening to handmade clothes to building your own funeral pyre in the woods, it’s a nice reminder that just a few decades ago, there really were people who made a go of choosing the slow—but vigorous—life.

It’s worth thinking about as a slower life is now being forced on us. Now back to the garden to water the tomatoes.

–Josh

Instant Noodles

In a time where comfort is a precious commodity, my teenage love for 3 minute noods has returned. Stronger than ever. I’m currently in the midst of a ramen packet Battle Royale, trying as many flavours and brands I can get my hands on (which is a surprisingly varied thanks to the Tesco and Morrison’s international food sections). Give it up for the quickest, tastiest, saltiest lunch out there.

–Jonny

Climbing Mountains (Sort of)

This past weekend, I was supposed to be bouncing around the hills in Torridon with a few gals from my walking group Mountain Burdz. Four days of big hikes, scrambles and cooking up mountain-fuel dinners together. With certain things getting in the way of our plans, we still wanted to do something together, something beyond a zoom call.

A trend that’s been sweeping the outdoor community during lockdown has been climbing the equivalent height of mountains on your staircase. So, inspired by this, we opted to create our own challenge of climbing 1326m of ascent—the height for Liathach in Torridon—on our various steps and stairs. We invited anyone to join us and ended up with a group of eight of us across the country messaging, sharing videos and snaps from our walks and steps.

All in all, a weekend of running up and down steps isn’t quite the same as climbing one of Torridon’s finest hills, but we gave it our best shot anyway and had a fun time walking ‘together’ from home. It’s a weird time we find ourselves in, but it was great to do this as a way of staying motivated and feeling connected even though we’re apart.

We’re taking on a similar challenge this weekend, this time in aid of raising donations towards Women’s Fund Scotland. So, if you’d like to help us stay motivated as we do hundreds of reps up and down our stairs, please donate if you are able!

– Tessa

Bob Dylan, Murder Most Foul

On Nick Cave’s ‘The Red Hand Files Issue #91’, Douglas from Glasgow wondered whether Bob’s new recording ‘Murder Most Foul’ might be a masterpiece. I listened to the song over and over and found myself in agreement. I had the sense of everything being drawn down; all the music Dylan has ever made; everything everyone else has ever done, copied or borrowed from the things Dylan has made.

The books of modern America distilled into permanent poetry and all this rolled into one mesmerising assembly. Perhaps the demands of this record go some way to explaining why Bob is Bob? Why the rest of us listen to great music and also terrible music? For a medium with a singular vinyl groove, Murder Most Foul seems very non-linear. It follows its own abstract path.

Coming as it does in a strange and disjointed time of virus, it feels as if something seismic is forming. Both comforting and distressing, it is a profound reminder of the power of song. I wonder where the path will take us?

– Neil

Baking Sourdough

Yeah yeah, every dude and betty is baking during quarantine. However, the fascination with sourdough among the fellas at O St predates the epidemic by months and we have the ‘sourbros’ Slack channel to prove it.

If you’ve been resistant until now, we do heartily recommend you meet your inner sourdough baker. There’s something essential and elemental about the physicality, science and self sustainability that makes it a perfect storm of a hobby.

Jonny recommends this wholesaler for flour, and Pizza Camp if you want to take the journey to the next level.

–Jonny

Radiooooo

As a global studio, being stuck at home has been frustrating. To help create the illusion of international (and time!) travel, we’ve all been dipping into this map of musical hits spanning decades and the world! I highly recommend Cuba in the 1970’s for some fun, or Mongolia in the 80’s for a trippy chill out!

– David

(Radiooooo is also a free mobile app and we suggest using it for social distance street parties with your neighbours.)

Devs

Devs is a tale of Silicon Valley dystopia from visionary writer and director Alex Garland (who gave us Ex Machina — it’s time to see that as well if you’ve missed out). Nick Offerman plays a brilliant tech founder haunted by personal loss in a tense, beautiful drama that only asks for eight hours of your life.

It gets into the weeds of parallel universes, determinism, free will, and living in a simulation, so make sure don’t you watch it with your theoretical physics enthusiast friends. They’ll spend the whole time blabbering over the beautiful soundtrack.

– Josh

Branding Architects and Kissing Giraffes

10.01.20

Kenya believe we were in Nairobi? We barely remember the busy blur that was 2019, but taking a lengthy Christmas break helped to clear our heads. In-between the fishing trips, beer work and design events I really did fit in a trip to Kenya. And yes, I really did kiss that giraffe.

That giraffe.

How did I find myself here? At the end of 2019, we crafted a brand identity for Nairobi-based architecture firm BuildX Studio (formerly Orkidstudio). We also designed a new identity for their sister organisation Buildher. They’re a social enterprise that empowers Kenyan women by providing them with accredited construction skills.

Before starting the project, we ran a series of workshops to build a foundation for the brand. We also wanted to identify how these two brands would work alongside one another. BuildX and Buildher are connected, but working out how that connection works visually was a complex design challenge.

Alongside the BuildX and Buildher teams, O Street recognise the importance of getting ‘stuck in’ with a new client. To successfully brand an organisation, it’s vital to get a feel for the people behind the company and the projects they are working on. So at the end of September, we chose a designer to go to Kenya. And just like that, I was working out of Nairobi during the week and safariing on the weekend!

Evidence of me perfecting the art of snapping photos from a moving vehicle.

Of course, as I voyaged, I continued the O Street tradition of #otypesafari—hunting for typographic goodness. I was a kid in a candy shop upon discovering that nearly all of the signage in Nairobi is still hand-painted. It seems that skilled labour is more affordable than plastic vinyl alternatives. Casual signwriter ‘shops’ adorn the highways advertising their services. The result is a characterful array of shop fronts, signs and Matatus (wildly driven and decorated minibuses that service as taxis across the city).

Yes, that is a spoiler on the back of a bus.

The trip was a whirlwind experience and being fully immersed in the culture of both brands was the perfect way to kick off the project. It was also fun to join the ranks of O remote workers for a week. With a time difference of just plus two hours, it was surprisingly easy to keep up with the team. Continuing ongoing projects was a breeze. At the same time, I could recap the workshops I had run that morning, whilst the UK team were still getting their morning coffee!

Here’s to 2020, when we’ll finally figure out how to make conference calls without the deafening sound of Neil making tea in the background.

—Tessa

(Actually) Fake It, Until You (Actually) Make It

19.07.18

Fake it till you make it the Orson Welles way: how he gave us a blueprint for getting creative dream projects going with Citizen Kane

A couple years ago, we found ourselves wanting to break into the world of beer packaging. We wanted to do it, we knew we could do it, but we hadn’t done it. And without that sort of work in your folio, it’s tough to get breweries to throw money at you to do it.

So, we faked it.

Fake it till you make it. It’s a cliche. And as usual, it’s a cliche because there’s some truth to it. Here’s a scenario: you’ve got a creative itch to scratch — an awesome idea you’re dying to bring into the world — but you can’t get the support you need to get it rolling, without having shown that you can do it. It’s a catch-22. Enter Citizen Kane.

When Orson Welles was thinking up his masterpiece, he couldn’t find the money to make it. None of the Hollywood big-shots would fund his project. So, he faked it. Welles scraped up some cash, built some DIY sets, and started filming. He created just enough to show execs that it existed. His vision was true. He could do it. They bought in. We know the result — arguably the greatest film ever.

We took a similar route to break into the beer industry. O Street created its own event series combining home-brewed beer, culture and experimental packaging. We were scratching a few at once, but the underlying goal was to create awesome beer packaging to show breweries:

It worked.

Not only did the series, Beertimes, become a beloved exercise for the studio, it won us a packaging gig with BrewDog. They were looking for a competent yet daring studio to do a brand and packaging revamp for their experimental beer series ABSTRAKT, and our DIY effort showed we could handle it.

Our takeaway from this experience looks something like this:

Now, we’re redesigning the brand entire fleet of beers for another landmark Scottish brewery. A body in motion stays in motion. Even if you’ve got to fake it to get it going in the first place.