Signs on the Street

24.05.22

In a recent visit to my old stomping ground Norwich, I stumbled across some slightly odd signs dotted throughout the city. After initially thinking I was seeing things, or maybe a member of Norwich City Council was using any means necessary to talk to their ex, it turns out these signs form an art installation by Hester Stefan Chillingworth as part of Norfolk and Norwich Festival: this is the sign you’ve been waiting for’.

With the crazed determination of a child with a treasure map, I searched for the rest of the signs – desperate to unearth every line of love, hope, and heartbreak that I could find.

And here they all are. Seven in total, they’re scattered around the city – behind churches, in parks, through alleyways. Hidden in plain sight, this intriguing insulation is easily overlooked. Their recognisable layout and symbols encourage you to nearly walk straight past them, maybe take a quick glance and double-take before questioning what else you might have missed.

There’s a real sense of bringing one’s innermost, heartfelt emotions into a starkly mundane public sphere. Like pages of a diary plastered on a noticeboard, they feel almost shamefully honest in a way that I truly can’t get enough of.

As is the case with the most interesting art pieces, the more you see, the more questions you have: is there a timeline to them, or a conclusion to the story? Does the order you read them affect their meaning? Is it the same speaker, an unspoken conversation between two voices? Should I call them? And so on.

None of these questions are answered, of course, but wondering is all part of the fun.

-Eli

 

O Street’s Glasgow Film Festival 2022 Picks

08.03.22

 

Glasgow Film Festival opened last week! To celebrate the opening of our favourite film fest, we’ve combed the listings and each chosen a top film pick.

 

Neil

Cape Fear

Made in the year I was born, I didn’t get see Cape Fear until an arthouse screening in my late teens almost 20 years later. 40 years on, it has stayed with me. The oppressive fusion of criminal cool with intrinsic nastiness is utterly disturbing. I still find myself wondering how Universal were talked into making such a difficult and ground-breaking piece. Down in no small part to the star-power of Peck and Mitchum who were determined to play the lead roles of good and off-kilter evil with absolute conviction. It’s no surprise the censors demanded numerous cuts before they would even grant it an X certificate. It’s one of those films that leaves a mark. Directors such as Nick Roeg and have referenced it and Scorsese directed the 1991 remake. However, in context of the time it was made, the original just simmers with so much unusual menace that you won’t forget it either.

 

David

a-ha: The Movie

I remember first seeing a-ha’s Take on Me video on Top of the Pops and being amazed. It was totally unique: clever, cinematic, grungy and fun. I should add, I grew up to like much cooler, edgier music (ahem…) and only wore leather strap bracelets that summer. All the same, I’ve picked this movie as my highlight for the walk down memory lane and a chance to tumble into that pencil sketch world one more time!

 

Tessa

The Hermit of Treig

It’s got to be The Hermit of Treig. Purely because of my fascination of the freedom of wilderness contrasted with the reality of a lonely life off-grid. Sign me up. This is sure to be emotional journey of exploring that balance between independence and isolation, at two very extreme ends of the spectrum.

 

Jack

Monstrous

My GFF pick is (drumroll) … Monstrous. There’s been a bit of a reinvention of Monster horror in recent years, rather than being a tool for punching down (think of the stigmatisation of the mentally ill as serial killers or ‘demonic’ figures, a la Jason Vorhees etc.), directors (example: Jennifer Kent of Babadook) have used the genre to reveal deeper, more insidious forms of trauma and terror that haunt the everyday experiences of marginalised people. A real, pervasive threat, as opposed to an aberrant, fantastical unlikelihood. Monstrous looks to continue on in that vein. Very anxious to be anxiously watching this one!

 

Eli

Mandrake

Does everyone really deserve redemption? Or are some people simply evil? Mandrake is a thrilling, demonic tale featuring witchcraft and heavy violence. I got so excited about this film I bought a ticket immediately! As someone who prefers to go into a film knowing as little as possible, I have no idea what to expect – maybe some strange mix between The Witch and Silence of the Lambs, or maybe something a little darker… I can’t wait.

 

George

Superior

A mysterious, thrilling, Lynchian film, with influences from Almódovar and textural, filmic, saturated cinematography. I’m a real sucker for a super stylised film, and Superior’s 80s, 16mm aesthetic really hits the spot.

 

Happy watching!

 

 

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:

We’re Back, Baby!

30.08.21

Last week was our first week working back at the studio, and we couldn’t be happier about it.

Remote working was getting old, Eli was even starting to offer their houseplants cups of coffee and biscuits. So with a little gentle corralling, we made it into the studio bright and early on Monday morning. Fuelled by consistent tea breaks, great company, and some funky ambient tunes, working in the studio beats working from our bedrooms by a long shot. Even if the studio cups were not 100% spider free.

Some of us hadn’t worked in the studio before, so we were even more eager to get stuck into a new routine. Learning how to fit into a team is particularly hard through video calls, so us newbies were desperate to work with each other in person and soak up all the learning experiences we could.

George hasn’t worked in the studio since his internship back in 2019, despite being with us for over a year now. He spent that year working from his living room, scheduling meetings around his flatmate (also working remotely in the living room), so he was more than ready to get back into the office. He’s excited to be back in this gorgeous space, surrounded by reference materials, photography equipment, and some high-class inspiration. The ease of communication between the team is also a massive plus for him, being able to easily keep us all in the loop and help out our interns out with only two metres and a mask between us.

It’s also Eli’s first time working with the team in person, and they’re loving being able to pick everyone’s brains on design terminology and offer helpful (some might say irritating) reminders to fill out the timesheets. Having been working perched on the edge of their bed in a tiny bedroom for the last four months, they’re thrilled at the prospect of a proper office chair and half-decent posture. The workplace mindset was a bit lost working from a cramped flat, so having a dedicated space to be productive has been a massive bonus for them. Losing out on that extra 45 minutes of sleep is totally worth it.

The general consensus is that we’re delighted to be back in this beautiful studio. We feel more like a team than ever, and the boundaries between work and home life are super helpful for both productivity and our personal wellbeing. And having Cottonrake Bakery just down the road only sweetens the deal.

Onwards to many more happy weeks of working in the Studio!

How to Pass the Nine Foot Test

06.07.20

Here’s how to pass the nine foot test:

1 Catch the eye
2 Put brand first
3 Test for legibility

A brand where we recently put the nine foot test to work was Full Circle Brew Co., where we had the advantage of A/B testing can designs as we developed them against craft beers already in the market.

But what exactly is the ‘nine foot test’? It’s a simple idea. When a person stands three meters away from a shelf at the pub or shop, your product should stand out and your branding should be recognizable. That’s it.

And while the idea is simple, execution is a different matter. That’s why we’ve got a few tricks to help beer cans and whiskey bottles sell in a crowded market. Not surprisingly, they’re timeless design tactics.

1 Catch the eye

Whether it’s bold colour, a geometric layout or an unusual material, the first step is to catch the eye. Take this whisky for the otherwise traditional Glenglassaugh; in a market where the ‘proper’ whiskies tend to play it safe, the circular and textured tree illustration grabs your eye.

2 Put brand first

A strong visual brand helps loyal fans find your product. When we branded Fyne Ales, we created the ‘farm house’ graphic to anchor every can, bottle and cask tag. Even when product names and auxiliary graphics change, the brand consistently attracts repeat customers.

3 Test for legibility

A poster or billboard is only effective if it communicates from a distance while the user is moving—treat your products the same. Put your label designs up on the wall and walk by to see if they can be read at a glance. Wherever you can adjust typography to make it more legible, do it. We recently used this test for McHenry Brewing Co.’s new crowler cans to help introduce them into local markets.

While there’s no surefire way to win the battle of shelf recognizability, putting nine foot test to work will give you an advantage. What’s your favourite example of a product that pops off the shelf?

Best of the Brewers Journal

03.04.20

Back when travelling was still a thing, we journeyed from Glasgow to Leeds on a beer-filled adventure. Joining our pals Tim & Jon at Brewer’s Journal, we gave a talk at their Brewers Lectures series. We jump at the chance to speak at these events. There’s always a great crowd and we get to be starstruck by our favourite brewers. (Yes there is a free bar, but it’s not just about that, thank you).

It’s also a great opportunity for us amateur beer lovers to learn a few things from the experts. Here’s a round up of some nuggets from the day.

 

1. The future is NALAB

brewers journal - lallemand

Robert Percival from Lallemand loves talking about sugar structures. He kicked off the day by introducing my clueless self to a new phrase: NALAB. For all you fellow beer newbies out there, that is No Alcohol or Low Alcohol Beer. As the current culture shifts towards more healthy lifestyle choices (mindful drinking, balanced with sport and fitness) more and more breweries are opting to produce beer that is Better For You.

Erdinger (my placebo beer of choice during Dry January) have been running this angle for a while—focusing on the isotonic properties of their beer and even sponsoring sporting events. Having said that, I didn’t see a single hand go up when Robert asked how many folk were currently cooking up a NALAB product. So, either it’s not catching on quite yet…Ooooor everyone is pretending it’s not catching on yet.

 

2. Bigger isn’t always better

brewers journal - northern monk

With such a saturation of craft breweries out in the world at the moment, it’s easy for smaller breweries to feel the need to up the ante. Grow grow grow and sell sell sell. However, Luca Lorenzi, director of growth at Northern Monk, turned this idea on its head by asking the audience to first ‘define what growth means to you’. Then get a good team around you to help make that happen. For Northern Monk, that led to pretty much doubling their sales for the past three years, whilst keeping community and family at the forefront of their journey.

 

3. Craft = Community

brewers journal - brooklyn brewery

At the Brewer’s Congress event we attended, we got schooled by Gabe Barry from Brooklyn Brewery in the history of all things beer and community. This time around, she emphasised how breweries can serve their communities, acting as a platform for bringing folk together. Craft is more than just brewing beer, it’s creating a space to build a community. Now it’s time to bring people in and diversify who gets to be a part of that. With breweries leading the way and changing the world for the better. In conclusion, this made me want to start a brewery immediately.

 

4. If in doubt, DIY.

brewers journal - pressure drop

After we took to the stage to reveal our top tips for designing a beer brand, Sienna O’ Rourke from Pressure Drop followed up. Sienna shared her own play on the top tips she used to create a striking identity for Pressure Drop in-house. Pressure Drop had a turbulent start as an emerging North London brewery and Sienna came on board to pull their visual identity and marketing together with a DIY approach. She established a bright and bold style, creating photos, artwork, collages in-house with the wider team to build a robust look that fits the bill for the ethos of the brewery. Showing that to find your vibe, sometimes you need to look inwards first.

 

5. Beer Goes Beyond Beer

brewers journal – cloudwater

The final speaker for the day was Paul Jones from Cloudwater. Everything he said transformed the audience from beer-drinking brewers to enlightened pioneers. We didn’t even get the chance to take notes on what that involved. Sorry, you just had to be there.

Ultimately, we go to these events aware that our knowledge of beer and brewing only extends to a small area of the industry, and we learn more every time. It’s a great atmosphere, with most craft breweries more than willing to share their story, learnings and give a leg up to the next craft brewer along the road. Or even the knowledge hungry design studio round the corner.

This system of support and community feels more important than ever in this bonkers climate we find ourselves in. Many of these breweries are independently owned, with small teams, who will seriously feel the impact of closed up pubs and tap rooms over the next few weeks. If you feel like getting stocked up whilst you sit in your pyjamas on zoom calls, here’s a helpful list of how you can do exactly that.

Northern Monk have discounts across their cans and cases of Faith on their online shop. Plus for every 12 pack sold Northern Monk are donating £3 to the NHS to support their work on the frontline. Keep the Faith indeed!

Pressure Drop are championing their community and reaching out to support business that will be affected by COVID too. They’ve created a pay it forward scheme—for every order of 15 cans or more they will pay forward £25 in credit to the independent pub, restaurant or retail outlet of your choice. Awesome.

Cloudwater have teamed up with local business Higher Ground to offer veg box delivery and tasty vegan meals through their site.

Brooklyn Brewery are doing an awesome job of sharing resources to support NYC communities and you can still grab your fix from BeerHawk if you aren’t stateside.

Yeastie Boys are offering shipping in the UK for all their beers. Plus they are donating £2 from every single case they sell to #COVID19 Emergency Appeal—a fund to provide grants to hospitality workers suddenly facing hardship. Absolute champs.

North Brewing have an awesome 20% discount for NHS workers and free local deliveries!

You may also have seen a taster of our upcoming rebrand for Stewart Brewing… Their current beer labels are about to become vintage collectables, quick—order up!

Fyne Ales are also keeping Scotland well supplied, with regular offers and discounts on their beautiful designed (ahem) online shop. You can currently get 12 x 330ml bottles of Perfect Silence for £25.

And if you can’t choose, there’s always beer box deliveries that do the choosing for you. Like Honest Brew, Hoppily, BeerBods or Beer52, who even do a cool mag to supplement your beer knowledge too.

So, cheers to that! I’m off to buy more beer.