July 31, 2009

Fan of Japan

I went to Japan a few months ago for some pop up related business.  It is a beautiful place.  They have a great sense of design and type there. I thought for this blog entry I would show some images of signs and graphics I encountered there.

More to come, enjoy.


The other day I found a little mini Etch-a-Sketch at a Duane Reade and brought it in to work. Jess, Simon and I all did a little collaboration on it and I thought I would share:

Simon definitely wins with the airplane!


The Emperor and His New Phone

I had to share this great article of news with the rest of you.  Hopefully you're a loyal consumer of Apple products!



Phillip Bell

Shawn Sheehy was in town recently to give some pop-up book workshops and told me about one of his former students, Phillip Bell.  Phil recently graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art where he worked on various paper engineering projects.   I love the two cute kids books he designed for Flying Frog Publishing, along with a pop-up guide to Baltimore. Additionally, Phil was able to explore the potential of pop-up package design.  Whether it is collapsible paper speakers that are built out of the backing card or making a mini fan more fun with the addition of a pop-up farm and flying cows, we can see Phil is having a lot of fun with pop-ups.  Let’s hope we see more of his work in the future, until then I’ll have to be distracted from this current heatwave with my old tabletop fan and some homemade origami cranes.


July 20, 2009

One man's trash is…. still trash

Here at the studio we do cool stuff and make pretty things. That’s what we do. Sometimes the byproduct of those pretty things is beautiful trash. So, risking looking like a complete weirdo, I combed the depths of our studio, digging through trash bins in search of a cross section of all the cool stuff we end up chucking at the end of the day.

I am starting a tri-monthly blog section called:

Here are 3 samples from trash cans that chose to remain anonymous:

What could they be?
Hidden messages? Leavings of some strange animal we keep locked in the library? Or the cut-outs of new projects that have yet to see the light of day?

Who knows?


July 16, 2009

Yet Another...

This week I bring you another Chanel commercial.  Yes Chanel is French, but the director is Australian.  Baz Luhrmann directed this Chanel commercial when Nicole Kidman was one of the main faces of the advertising for Chanel.  Baz Luhrmann is mainly known for his Red Curtain Trilogy:  Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, and Moulin Rouge.

This commercial is reminiscent of Luhrmann's Red Curtain movies, but mainly Moulin Rouge.  But instead of Paris, this commercial seems to be set in NYC-- the Chanel sign they sit in looks like the Watchtower sign in Brooklyn.  It's utterly romantic and exquisitely done.

I'd also add that between this commercial and last week's Jeunet commercial, is shows how versatile Chanel is in advertising and really design.  If you read about Coco Chanel, she was pretty genius in designs and in style.  Some of her jewelery pieces she designed herself still look modern and timeless today.

here's the commercial:

and the making of the commercial, narrated by Baz Luhrmann:


Baby Signs Pop-up Book Tour

Do you have a baby?  Do you know of someone with a baby?  Do you plan to reproduce in the near future?  Would you like to communicate with a child who has not grasped the complex rules of English grammar?  Do you live near Lake Michigan?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions you might be interested to know that Kyle Olmon will be participating in his Biennial Book Tour 2009 on Saturday, July 18th.  Kyle will be in the Chicagoland area to promote his newest pop-up book Baby Signs at two book events in one day.  Join him for storytime at the Deer Park Barnes & Noble in the morning, or stop by the Rena Sternberg Gallery in Glencoe for an afternoon of three-dimensional delight.  Please find the information for both venues below:

Baby Signs presentation and book signing

Saturday, July 18th from 11:00 am to Noon.

Barnes & Noble

Deer Park Town Center

20600 North Rand Road

Deer Park, IL 60010


For more store details and map, please click here.

Baby Signs reading, pop-up demonstration and book signing

Saturday, July 18th from 2:00 - 4:00 pm.

Rena Sternberg Gallery

378 Park Avenue

Glencoe, IL 60022


Click here for a map.  Event listing can be found here.

Come on out and stock up on baby shower gifts and support a young author.  Please feel free to share this announcement of a truly rare event with your friends, family and even strangers carrying babies on the street.  Thank you.

you better believe it!

Recently I visited the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium in Times Square, a place New Yorkers usually only visit when they're accompanying their visiting friends or family. Part of the reason I went was one attraction called the “Black Hole” – I was told “it makes you feel like you’re floating in space!”

This reminded me of an art installation my mom told me about after she visited the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona. She described it as a dark room with mirrors with lights hanging from the ceiling – disorienting you and making you feel like you are suspended in nothingness with lights all around:

 You Who are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies, by Yayoi Kusama, 2006


Here’s a video of Fireflies on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielgreene/2554869071/

I really want to see it in person!


So anyway, back to the Black Hole at Ripley’s. Basically, it’s a darkened walkway with a huge drum rotating around it. Small lights are set into the drum, and as they rotate around you, your brain switches its perception of its surroundings – suddenly the drum seems to be standing still, and the walkway starts to spin around beneath your feet!

It’s a good thing the railings are there because the illusion is so effective that you quickly start falling and leaning to one side to keep your balance.

I went through the tunnel three times but I had to stop there because I started getting motion sickness. It took several minutes for the dizziness to go away, but I’d say it was worth it for the experience.

The following is a time-lapse photo, showing the paths of the lights as they swirl around the walkway. Otherwise the tunnel is too dark to photograph (or videotape!) What a beautiful picture!

(photo by Mary Altaffer, Associated Press / June 21, 2007)


July 10, 2009

Train De Nuit

What do Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Audrey Tautou, and Chanel have in common?  Well, one they're all respectively French.  Second, they've been mashed up into one commercial.  That's right, last May (5/5/2008) Jean-Pierre Jeunet's short film/commercial for Chanel aired starring Audrey Tautou!  And it's simply stunning.  If you've enjoyed Jeunet's other films (Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie PoulainDelicatessen) you'll defintely enjoy this short romantic commercial.  Check it out here:



Probably the best Swiss souvenir books

Ellen Rubin aka the Popuplady recently brought my attention to a new series of pop-up books promoting Switzerland and its many cultural, natural and architectural wonders. There are six books in the series created by Stand-Up –Switzerland, and the publisher boasts of being “the original” as well as “the no. 1 3D-Book of Switzerland.” I had the opportunity to review two titles in the series and opted to focus on the major cities of Zurich and Bern. Looks like I chose well as the copy of “Best of Bern” displayed a sticker plainly stating “probably the best Swiss Souvenir-Book”.

The designers cram almost 40 pages of information in the 12” x 9” format that features a pop-up map of the host region on the first spread as well as a large complex paper engineered structure with accompanying pop-up side flap in the center of the book. In Bern, the Bundeshaus (Parliament building) unfolds to a satisfyingly solid structure. For Zurich, the Grossmunster cathedral takes center stage to St. Peter’s clock tower. The good people at Refeka really did a nice job with the paper engineering.

Since this is a promotion catering to the tourism trade, all the books are printed in German, French, English, Chinese and Japanese. Additionally, pop-up cards are available for purchase at the online store. With the aid of Google translation and helpful English email correspondence I had no trouble ordering these welcome editions. If you are interested in a unique souvenir of your time abroad or wish to supplement your pop-up collection, I recommend you consider picking some up.


Not Aesop's Fables

(Image copyright James Jean)

One of my favorite graphic novel series is Fables, created by Bill Willingham. The novels take familiar characters from fairy tales and fiction and put them all together in original stories with crazy twists and turns. And the art is usually pretty good, too!

Many times with retellings of classic stories I have been sadly disappointed, but not so with these books. Willingham skillfully sprinkles fun discoveries and new depths for the characters' backstories even as the main plot develops. The more you read, the more everything intertwines together in surprising ways.

I also love spotting cameos of little-known characters. I once even saw Churchy LaFemme (see Pogo)! 


(note: the novels are intended for adult audiences only.)

July 2, 2009

Toothpick art

In paper engineering you have to have plenty of finger dexterity and patience. The same thing goes for this art form I've been recently looking into: toothpick modeling!

Check out this model of San Francisco built by a grocery store produce manager, Scott Weaver.

Or these toothpick versions of famous buildings and towers built by Stan Munro:



AZ Pride

This was my first Pop up book, ‘Creatures of the desert world’. It shows all sorts of plants and animals of the Sonoran desert, where I'm from.

This is what it looks like:

And here is what it looks like at night:

The last page of the pop-up book is the best; it shows all the animals that come out at night. I don’t have a picture of it so you will just have to buy it on Amazon.com or something.
It’s a National Geographic book. The Illustrator and paper engineer are not named - this happens sometimes, because life is not fair and neither is publishing. Anyway, I think the paper engineer did a first rate job.


French Rock Rocks!

If your ear has been near the radio lately, you've probably heard Phoenix's new album 'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix'. Or you've heard some of the many mixes and mash ups that are floating around the internet. Really, Phoenix has created an incredible album (dare I say, yet again) and if you haven't checked them out already click here to their website-->


Keep rocking, internet world.


A Castle on the Ocean

A friend of mine came across this while surfing the Web and thought I’d like it. He knows I like paper craft (as anyone one the blog has figured out) and he knows I like castles (as my first pop-up book can attest) – so the combination of these is a sure fire favorite. I was stunned at the level of complexity and sophistication achieved in this tour de force of paper craft. Check out some of the amazing photos at Tokyobling’s blog as well as get some info on the exhibition. A young art student named Wataru Itou spent FOUR years working on this project to complete a degree at a Tokyo art university.

A few more images can be found at the main Japanese website for the Uminohotaru gallery.

Also, I was able to find an article on the paper craft castle here. Since I don’t read Japanese, I had to rely on Google translate to get the gist of the story but it looks like the sprawling town (complete with a castle, construction cranes and moving train) was displayed in a student exhibition earlier this year. At the end of the show, this labor of love was to be burned to the ground! At the last minute, the owner of the gallery rescued it from the flames and found an exhibition space in the underwater Uminohotaru gallery off the coast of Tokyo.

So glad to see this work of art survive to enchant future audiences. Including me.

- Kyle