Illustration

Sometimes You Have To Toot Your Own Horn A Little.

I have been maintaining this blog site for more than 10 years now, and it has also been a place to showcase my portfolio and resume for freelance and contract opportunities. For the last 5 of the 10 ten years, I’ve been posting to Modular 4, I’ve been saying to myself I really need to create a separate site that is exclusively focused on the work I’ve been doing and remove the portfolio and resume form here. Unfortunately, life just always got in the way. I’d think about it, procrastinate, fiddle around with a new site layout, get caught up in something else, forget about it, try to come back to it and never actually get anything done.

Well, guess what? I finally got off my butt and got something done. The new site for Wade Johnston Graphic Design features projects that I have worked on over the last 10 plus years, and services offered. It took me long enough, but the site is finally live. So I’m tooting my own horn and saying I’m open for business. That’s a bit of a lie though, I’ve been open and doing design business for the last 30 years. That doesn’t mean I’m not open to new opportunities though, so if you need design and advertising help give me a shout. I’ll be updating the new site regularly with new featured projects and projects that showcase specific skills, so if you are interested check back every so often. I’m also in the process of connecting the new SquareSpace site to my social media accounts so new pages and posts should start populating publically soon.

I’ll continue to post here but within the next few weeks, the menu items for my portfolio and resume will be removed. This website will continue to be what it has been for the last decade, a place where I can sound off about whatever I want, however, I want. If you have been one of the people that have read my posts here over the last 10 years, thanks. I really appreciate it.

If you hop over to the new site, I hope you like what you see.

“The Finish Line”. Honda’s Amazing Formula One Racing Promotion.

Four things I like. Good Design, auto racing, animation/motion graphics, and high-quality video production. When these elements combine into something that epically leverages all of them it’s hard to contain myself. 

I love this video. I’m not sure who the production company was behind it, or if Honda did this in house but the end result is spectacular. The video showcases Honda’s involvement in Formula One racing opening with racing legend Richie Ginther at the wheel of the Honda RA272, which won Honda’s first F1 race at the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix. The car then morphs into Ayrton Senna’s iconic MP4/4 from 1988 making its way around the narrow corners of the Monaco Grand Prix. Then the animation jumps all the way to 2006 when Jenson Button won the Hungarian Grand Prix at the wheel of Honda’s own F1 car and team. From there we cut to Max Verstappen and his heroic win at the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix, and then again at the German Grand Prix.

The piece is interlaced with live-action footage from the races, highly stylized animation, nice use of typography, all built on a limited color pallet of red, black, yellow, blue and white. The style of the animation has a nice graphic novel look, that is matched perfectly to the driving music and soundtrack of engine sounds, crowd, and announcer overlays that help pull the whole thing together. The small details like the speed lines that emanate from the bold titles and the insertion of the Japanese text is a really nice visual design touch that is carried throughout the entire video.

Well done Honda. This is one of the better promotional pieces I’ve seen for Formula One. I’m not sure where this is going to run but I have a feeling during broadcast F1 races. It has a run length of 60 seconds and could be edited down to a 30, or even a 15-second spot if needed.

The high production value on this is sure to pay off. So a solid spot.

Ahead of 2020, Beware the Deepfake – The Atlantic

There is plenty of political implications in the video below, but that isn’t why I’m posting it. The animation is really really nice, and when coupled to the voice over it becomes an engaging piece that draws you in and holds your attention for three and a half minutes.

Produced for the Atlantic this team of designers, animators, illustrators, and writers have crafted an informative short that addresses an issue that is going to become more problematic in the near future. The use of Deepfake technology.

I watched this first with the sound on, taking in the entirety of the messaging. Then I hit the mute button and watched it again. There is a great rhythm to the piece. Sections flow together and create nice visual layouts. The sparse color pallet adds to the drama and focuses your attention.

I don’t care what your political stance is, or which side you choose to vote for or why. This technology will have some crazy implications for things beyond elections in the near future. Oh, and be forewarned. If you google Deepfakes to see examples of how this is being used, there are a ton of adult videos that will show up.

“We are crossing over into an era where we have to be skeptical of what we see on video,” says John Villasenor, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Villasenor is talking about deepfakes—videos that are digitally manipulated in imperceptible ways, often using a machine-learning technique that superimposes existing images or audio onto source material. The technology’s verisimilitude is alarming, Villasenor argues because it undermines our perception of truth and could have disastrous consequences for the upcoming U.S. presidential election. I’do think deepfakes are going to be a feature of the 2020 elections in some way,” Villasenor says. “And their shadow will be long.”

A full credits list is at the end of the animated short if you are interested in the team that put this together.

The Anticipated Death of Illustration Never Happened.

When I first began my career the world of design, marketing, and advertising was 90 percent analog. There were phototypesetting tools available, but most of the work was very much old school. The copy was written up on typewriters, layouts were assembled via paste-up, color separation was done by hand and illustration was created with paint, pencils, ink, and other tangible items.

I remember having a discussion with a colleague in the early 1990’s where he proclaimed that the art of illustration was over. That digital had ushered in the end of an era and that Photoshop and Illustrator (maybe Freehand) were going to rule the world. Fast forward a couple of decades and take a look around. Just like the Kindle and iPad were going to kill off books, digital didn’t kill off traditional illustration methods.

There were extraordinary eras of illustration before mass media changed our viewing habits. Illustration was the most primary means of illuminating the word on paper. Today, when we get our words and images on screens as small as a watch face the role of illustration, might have shifted, but it is more free and varied than ever. Designers, artists, and illustrators are holding their own producing content for every kind of media.

Taschen recently released a new book “The Illustrator. 100 Best from around the World” showcasing 100 illustrators compiled by Steven Heller and Julius Weidemann over a ten-year period of time.

This 600-page book contains examples of work, bio’s of the artists that created them and truly shows sheer quality, diversity, intensity, comedy, and the vivacity of the work that is being produced. From veterans like Brad Holland, whose works for the New York Times’ op-ed section revolutionized illustrative content in the 1970s, to rising stars like Robin Eisenberg, with her pastel aliens cruising in spaceships on album covers, the 100 artists in this collection are just the tip of the iceberg, but they represent a compelling snapshot of the styles, techniques, and use of color by artists across the world.

What an inspiration.

Giant Ant for the “On Being” Podcast

One of my regular podcast listens is On Being and I have been listening quite a bit more in the last 6 months for a number of reasons I’m not going to go into here. If you have some free time give it a listen, I guarantee it’ll be worth your time.

Recently Giant Ant, one of my favorite motion graphics/video/design firms was given the opportunity to put together a short animated piece for On Being and results are wonderful.

Giant Ant was given a wide open brief to work with so they had plenty of room to explore and take some risks. What they produced is a 44 second animated short that moves from illustrative to abstract and back again balanced against O’Donohue’s narration. It’s really quite lovely and frankly, I’d love to see something like this done for the entire length of the podcast. (I know time and money…)

Rain or Shine Googles Latest 360º Immersive Spotlight Story

About a year ago Google launched a new line of video shorts for YouTube called Google Spotlight Stories, a specific immersive video platform with mobile users in mind. The video below can be panned through as the action takes place, but where this really shines is when you watch the video on an Android or iOS device in the native YouTube app.

Rain or Shine directed by Felix Massie is the latest in the series of shorts and is really quite impressive beyond the technology. The story and character development are superb drawing the viewer in and engaging with them as the explore the environment as the story plays out. The story is simple yet clever. The main character, Ella puts on a pair of magical sunglasses and travels through her London neighborhood creating chaos before learning how to use the glasses for good.

This really is a better experience on your phone, so if you have a chance watch it and the other Google Spotlight Stories there.

 

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James Lovelock’s Tool Kit For The Future

Well this will definitely be going into the personal library. When I was a kid this is the kind of book I would spend hours reading and re-reading, especially if it was filled with gorgeous illustrations like this one is. ” The big picture James Lovelock’s tool kit for the future.” By Taschen is illustrated by Jack Hudson, a British illustrator with a particular interest in scientific subjects and the interaction of macro and micro scales, and features contributions by quantum physicist Lisa Randall, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, Pulitzer Prize–winning biologist Edward O. Wilson, and Nobel Prize–winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel. The book was Conceived by James Lovelock, inventor of the Gaia theory, this illustrated essay collection brings together an all-star lineup of thinkers and scientists to offer essential understanding about who we are, how we live, and where we might be going.

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