Graphic design is a key tool in activism, no matter the cause. Arresting (designed) visuals have historically been a cornerstone of social and political change. As time marches on, and we become more connected, original ideas seem harder to come by. Visuals become derivative over time, not necessarily intentionally but often subconsciously. So when we see something that stands out, we take notice. As is the case with this Greenpeace campaign by powerhouse ad agency Young & Rubicam. Not only are we taken with the straightforward and impactful concept, but also the execution. It appears to be a masterclass in 3D modeling in our estimation, with stunning details that truly blur the lines between CGI and reality. Simply put, it’s a terrific use of modern design technology that really communicates an important message effectively.

Via Behance

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As designers we are all too familiar with the Pantone Matching System… the industry standard for classifying colors with an alphanumeric code, allowing for accurate recreation across media. We literally refer to it daily, and many designers can often rattle off Pantone numbers with great excitement and precision (we are guilty as charged). Brazilian-born, Madrid-based photographer Angélica Dass capitalizes on the familiarity of the Pantone system in her ongoing Humanæ Project, in an effort to “record and catalog all possible human skin tones.” This “chromatic inventory” is certainly a tall order, but Dass’s approach is a terrifically visually engaging way to broach the subject of social, cultural and racial identity, which is close to her heart. To date, Dass has indexed over 3,000 different shades from volunteers around the world (22 cities and 14 different countries on five continents, to be exact). Dass’s project has taken on a life of its own, even spawning educational and outreach programs developed by Dass herself. Not only do we love the concept, but Dass’s execution and philanthropic spirit really take it to the next level. Be sure to check out Dass’s TED Talk (here) to learn more about the origins and goal of this laudable project.

Via humanae.tumblr.com and Instagram

Okay, we’re gonna take some liberties and very loosely classify this as art in honor of the upcoming President’s Day holiday. No one can deny it’s fun, though. And, what the heck? It’s Friday…. You may or may not have heard of the growing popularity of “face-swapping” apps (like the aptly named FaceApp), used to engage in all sorts of shenanigans (swapping faces of Disney characters, babies, etc.). But Reddit user known simply as “ygdrssl” decided to rewrite history and imagine past U.S. Presidents as women. And the results are, well, funny. From Helen Hoover to Joan F. Kennedy to Lynda B Johnson, we are laughing out loud about this alternate universe. Rest assured the underlying gender dialogue is not lost on ygdrssl, who commented: “It’s strange to think that these people would never have been elected president because of that pesky troll X chromosome.” Art? Maybe, maybe not. But most certainly creative and thought-provoking.

Via Reddit

Love is in the air on this Valentine’s Day, but Los Angeles-based artists DJ Neff and Paul Ramirez promote a different kind of love. Started in 2011, this collaboration has blossomed into a full-fledged non-profit organization, CANLOVE, whose mission is to upcycle otherwise discarded or abandoned spray paint cans. Over the years, they have saved (by hand!) some 15,000+ spray paint cans from the landfill. And in the process created some beautiful, innovative and intriguing artwork. Armed with “spray bouquets”, blooming flower creations and heart-shaped works, CANLOVE can suit all your Valentine’s Day needs (visit their Flower Shop here). Not only do we love their work on a purely artistic level, but the fact that this work also has a purpose really makes our hearts pound.

Via canlove.org

The beauty of the mosaic art form is how the experience changes based on the viewing distance. Wisconsin-bred, New York-based artist Kevin Champeny capitalizes on this dichotomy by creating custom hand cast urethane objects that comprise the resulting assemblage that complement the full meaning of each piece. Champeny’s work is not only visually impactful, but he drives his concepts further through these distinctive methods. Champeny explains in his own words: “I create a style of work that blurs the lines between photography, painting, and sculpting. Mosaics enable me to elicit the tension and stories between the sculpted and cast pixels and the overall image they compose. My art opens a conversation for the viewer. I want people to think about what these pieces mean to them and how their own experiences make sense of the choices I made when creating the work.”

More mosaic art here and here and here.

Via kevinchampeny.com

 

Imagine a post-apocalyptic world where social media companies are no longer the powerhouses they are today, but rather crumbling relics from the past. That’s exactly what self-taught Romanian digital artist Andrei Lacatusu envisioned when conceiving his arresting series Social Decay. Not only is Lacatusu’s technical skill amazing, but we love the concept, which flies in the face of all we know to be true at this present moment. And that’s what makes this series so striking. These logos, including Facebook, Google, and Instagram, are slick, closely curated marks that sort of define the current era. So to see them dilapidated, weather-worn and abandoned forces a double take, especially at this level of realism. Lacatusu’s perspective is provocative and timely, elevating this series well beyond a masterclass in CGI.

Via Behance

    

The artist who brought us the Political Lamp (here) has another intriguing and unsettling creation: the Earthquake Lamp. Much like his work on the Political Lamp, French artist known only as ParseError explores art, design, technology, and science through this fascinating object. Linked to data from IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology), the Earthquake Lamp responds in real time to earthquakes from around the world with pulsing lights and an unsettling sort of rumble. As an object, it’s really quite beautiful. But the meaningful, connected aspect elevates it well beyond just a decorative piece. The technology is so nuanced, its light and sound output changes according to the location and magnitude of the earthquake, varying the color and duration of the pulsations, and the power of the sound. Ironically, (what appears to be) its glass tube design looks quite fragile, so in the event of a local earthquake, one may be left with a pile of glass. Either way, ParseError has done it again… walking that line between anxiety and fascination. And evoking emotion is what art is all about.

Via parseerror.ufunk.net

As we’ve mentioned before, we occasionally have a lapse of design envy. It doesn’t happen too often… after all, we are a pretty terrifically creative bunch here at Barbour. But sometimes we encounter work that is just so damn brilliant. So good, in a “why didn’t we think of that?” sort of way, that we have to concede our envy publicly (in a good way, of course). In this instance, it’s the illustrious work of New York-based designer and letterer Nick Misani. Though we are absolutely taken with Misani’s entire stunning body of work, we are particularly impressed with his ongoing Fauxsiacs series. Here, Misani hones his stellar lettering skills in the context of realistic mosaic illustrations to great effect. Misani’s work is clearly historically influenced, with a modern twist, and it’s no surprise that he has worked with design icon Louise Fili, perhaps the highest compliment. We will be keeping an eye on this series, which features destinations from around the world. The possibilities are endless, and hopefully coming to a city near you! Prints available here.

Via fauxsaics.com and Instagram

At a time when our collective consciousness is so acutely aware of gender roles, and (a long overdue) war has been waged against sexist practices and other gender issues, Lebanon-based photographer/visual artist Eli Rezkallah turns twisted gender roles depicted in vintage advertisements on their heads. Rezkallah painstakingly recreated some blatantly sexist ads, but with a reversal of gender roles to convey just how these absurd and deep-rooted gender stereotypes were portrayed to the masses just decades ago. Rezkallah also comments on how past generations continue to perpetuate these oversimplified ideas about the roles of women and men: “Last Thanksgiving, I overheard my uncles talk about how women are better off cooking, taking care of the kitchen, and fulfilling ‘their womanly duties’. Although I know that not all men like my uncles think that way I was surprised to learn that some still do, so I went on to imagine a parallel universe, where roles are inverted and men are given a taste of their own sexist poison.” If nothing else, Rezkallah’s work should make you giggle (and perhaps even gasp).

Via elirezkallah.com

 

As the convergence of our digital and physical lives continues at a rapid pace, art, as it historically has, reflects these shifts. UK-born, NYC-based designer/artist Ben Fearnley, whose award-winning work often features top-notch CGI, explores this juxtaposition through his recent personal project Sculptmojis. Fearnley’s visually engaging and playful CG creations mix traditional sculpture with those ubiquitous emojis we are all so familiar with. The contrast is striking, and honestly might not be as effective in less capable hands. Fearnley’s conceptual thinking and masterful execution elevate this digital art way beyond the very basic ideograms it derives from.

Via benfearnleydesign.com

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