Clone yourself silly…

An enterprising Japanese firm, Clone Factory, have taken cutting edge 3D mapping and printing technologies in another direction entirely, by making it possible to have your head cloned onto a doll of your choosing, such as the unusually cheery Imperial Stormtrooper shown above!

The subject simply takes a seat in the photo studio, where they’re snapped’n’scanned, then a 3D model of their noggin is rendered…

The 3D model is then printed onto a sheet of clay-like material, which is trimmed and coloured, before being fitted to the body of your choice…

The results are scarily accurate!

C30, C60, C90 go!

Far from disappearing, the humble compact cassette has found fresh favour on the DIY music scene, with the return of tape-only labels being one of the most surprising developments of recent years. However, taking into account the digital ‘loudness wars’ eloquently deliniated in Greg Milner’s Perfecting Sound Forever, which saw the likes of Metallica’s huge fanbase lambasting the ‘everything louder than everything else’ approach, mebbe the humble analogue cassette’s ability to absorb serious overloading and sound simply triffic makes more sense… and then there’s the excellent blank tape insert art, as reflected by this excellent Flickr set.

Sliced Pixels

With this technique Victor van Gaasbeek used the most basic elements in todays graphic design; the pixel.

The pixels were sliced in half, and with the sliced pixels created numerous animal heads. Up-close all you see is triangles, but when you look from a distance, the big picture becomes clear. Check out Victor’s site @ victorvangaasbeek.com

Mister Freedom — history and design in harmony

Following on from the hot 2010 trend for American workwear that we blogged about, transplanted French designer Christophe Loiron has started a new style digression with his California-based brand Mister Freedom‘s Spring 2011 collection, Les Apaches.

Taking inspiration from Parisien hoodlum kultchur of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Loiron’s really gone to town on this homage to his home country’s organic street style. The attention to detail is astonishing, not least this beautiful, specially-commissioned shirt box, painted by Patrick Segui. Expect the influence of the Les Apaches collection to be felt on UK high streets next year — minus the packaging!

Monkee Business — coining it in…

Monkee Business, Eric Lefcowitz’s new tome about the world’s first boyband, is now available in a nifty limited edition run of 300 copies that feature a die-cut cover inset with double-sided coins depicting the respective noggins of Messrs Nesmith, Tork, Jones and Dolenz, as used on the regular paperback shown below. The limited edition is available here.

Jon Jackson’s Adios LA

When artist Jon Jackson, a longtime Los Angeles resident, made plans to relocate to Noo Yoik, he didn’t want “to string LA along” and so “decided to firmly break it off through a graphic billboard series posted on the famous streets of his first love”!

Needless to say, the City of the Angels hasn’t seen anything quite like Johnson’s series since Elektra Records broke the mainstream hold on LA’s billboards with their revolutionary paste-ups for The Doors’ debut album and Love’s “Forever Changes” set in 1966-67.

You can check out Jackson’s full series here.

Winter design classics – Mary Maxim sweaters

With snow a cert for the Christmas period and chunky knits a hot high street trend, what better time to celebrate a classic design of the fashion world, the Mary Maxim sweater?

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Herb Lester Associates

Guardian Guide creator Ben Olins’ latest project, in partnership with Jane Smillie, is the self-effacingly great Herb Lester Associates, who have produced a number of gorgeous, fold-up maps designed by Montana’s Michael Newhouse.

You Are Here is a pocket-sized guide to London’s best spots for freelancers to hold meetings and work, May We Help You? details the captial’s best specialist suppliers, and their latest, Wish You Were There, is a look at the city’s hottest shops and entertainments, circa 1960-1966. The maps are available for £3-4 each here.

Creativity test: what’s missing?

Beijing 1989

Fatescapes, a project by Czech artist Pavel Maria Smejkal, takes a number of the 20th C’s most iconic images as its base and taps into the collective cultural consciousness in a most striking manner. The project asks you to work out what’s missing – always the test of a true creative – and re-evalutate your relationship to the subject.

More after the jump…

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Still state of the (street) art

Filmmaker, author and photographer Henry Chalfant, the director of much-loved early-1980s hip hop street art documentary, Style Wars, has just launched a new website that is set to feature his astonishing Big Grafitti Archive. Henry’s portfolio features countless breathtaking shots that effectively helped to communicate grafitti art to the rest of the world, and he plans to make the Big Graffiti Archive available as a DVD set. That’s one for the OG Christmas list, then. Click on the image above to check the subway car in all of its glory.

Another ingredient in the crucible of hip hop, New York’s street gang culture, is explored in Rubble Kings, a new documentary from director Shan Nicholson that’s currently on the film festival circuit. Check the trailer below…

Ligature, Loop & Stem Poster

Every now and again someone sends me a link that literally makes my jaw drop. Check out this amazing letter press typography poster from Scott Boms, Grant Hutchinson and Luke Dorny, printed by Lunar Caustic Press. Want one? No chance. Limited edition of 100 must have sold out in minutes.

Ligature, Loop & Stem Poster

Ligature, Loop & Stem Poster 2

Ligature, Loop & Stem Poster 3

“Just My Type” of Christmas present

Slightly wayward but undeniably brilliant social chronicler Simon Garfield has got a new tome out, “Just My Type: A Book About Fonts” (Profile Books), which is a surefire Xmess winner for anyone with even a modicum of interest in design and the peeps behind it. If it’s a quarter as good as his masterful history of British grappling in the 1970s, “The Wrestling” (Faber), then “Just My Type” will be a hugely enjoyable read. Here’s the blurb:

“Just My Type is a book of stories. About how Helvetica and Comic Sans took over the world. About why Barack Obama opted for Gotham, while Amy Winehouse found her soul in 30s Art Deco. About the great originators of type, from Baskerville to Zapf, or people like Neville Brody who threw out the rulebook, or Margaret Calvert, who invented the motorway signs that are used from Watford Gap to Abu Dhabi. About the pivotal moment when fonts left the world of Letraset and were loaded onto computers … and typefaces became something we realized we all have an opinion about.”

The Nine Eyes of Google Street View

By Jon Rafman. More info here, and lots more examples on his Tumblr.

Letterpress heaven – Hatch Show Print, Nashville

Opened in Nashville by brothers Herbert and Charles Hatch in 1879, Hatch Show Print is America’s oldest printing business and is still creating beautiful letterpress posters and handbills using its huge library of hand-cut blocks. From Elvis, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, to The White Stripes and REM, Hatch has advertised ’em all. And as Hatch still turns out around 600 print jobs each year, t’ain’t goin’ anyplace soon, bub…

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Great film posters

We first became aware of this guy’s work when Hollywood director Jon Favreau tweeted a hand drawn poster for Iron Man II earlier this year.

The illustrator’s name is Tyler Stout, who hails from Washington in the States. He’s spent years caught up watching films and honing his craft, and it’s through this focus that you can see why he didn’t have a girlfriend until he was in his early 20s.

But it’s that kind of love for the subject matter that’s paid off in his later life, getting commissions to produce brilliantly observed re-imagings of current and classic movie posters.

We’re hugely keen on his ‘Kuato Lives’ Total Recall poster – the ‘two weeeeeeeeeks’ head is great – but all of his posters bring something to the party that hasn’t been seen in film posters for years.

Let’s hope we see a return to these sorts of promo values in the near future – all of our lives would be the better for it.

For more of Tyler’s work, stop by at his website – you may even be able to pick yourself up a print, but you’ll need to be quick!

Arcade Fire – The Wilderness Downtown

This interactive music video for Arcade Fire by those Google chaps shows some of the more amazing stuff possible with HTML5. And it all takes place in your hometown.

Really worth a look.

Custom belts: art you can wear — from concho to emo

As you’d expect, yer average High Street emo kid has absolutely no idea of the ancestry of their nattily studded fashion belts, and why should they? Adding studs and jewels to leather belts appears to have crossed over from Mexico to American ‘Western’ wear back in the 1920s. The vaqueros’ penchant for affixing conchos and studs to their garments (all the better to reflect their wealth) had picked up native American influences by the time the style hit such mainstream retailers as Miller of Colorado and Montgomery Ward in the 1930s.

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Elektra hits 60 — art and commerce in perfect harmony

The label’s masterpiece? Love’s third album, 1967’s Forever Changes.

Elektra records is celebrating its 60th birthday this year, and as far as independently-minded, hugely successful labels are concerned, it’s managed to surf atop six decades of musical mayhem with great aplomb, maintaining a textbook mix of art and commerce — from Love and the Doors, through the Stooges, MC5 and New York Dolls, to Charlotte Gainsbourg, Björk and Cee-Lo Green.

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The 45 sleeve — packaging as art

“Sleeves were designed originally to serve as a protective device for records and labels during shipment. In the case of “45” rpm records, however, a device of this nature becomes unnecessary. The raised label area on 45’s fully prevents any harmful contact between the grooved surfaces of records during shipment. Paper separators – such as this sheet – are designed to protect record labels during shipment. They have no other useful function and may be discarded at your convenience…”

Sage record care advice from the folks at RCA Victor, circa 1952.

As you can see from the small selection of 45 sleeves shown above, thankfully, the rest of the music industry — and, indeed, RCA itself — didn’t share this rather quite touching faith in the durability of the company’s new vinyl medium, and quickly turned the humble shipping protector into an art form in its own right.

RCA’s numpty claim is very redolent of those made on behalf of the CD when it was first introduced — most famously on a 1981 episode of the popular TV science show, Tomorrow’s World, wherein the presenters happily smeared a shiny biscuit with jam, then wiped it off and played it, as if proving that it was virtually indestructible! And we know how that ended…

ID badges as art

In these days of ID cards and passports that routinely use biometrics, thumb prints, retina identification, smart chips, etc, to check who you are, it’s nice to remember that these could also be art, your face used to be your ticket, and that lamination is essentially a dirty word.

Take a close gander at this inspiring collection of vintage American employee ID badges, and repeat after us, “I am not defined by a magnetised strip…”

Shine Advertising Knife Packaging by Studio on Fire

Stunning 7 colour letterpress for this pocket knife mailer by the amazing Studio on Fire. More here…

The Impossible Project

The aptly-named The Impossible Project have actually pulled off something of a coup, managing to restart manufacture of Polaroid instant film, which was discontinued in 2008 — using the original equipment, no less — and it couldn’t come at a more apt juncture, given the success of the iPhone’s Hipstamatic app.

In addition to the trad colour format, The Impossible Project are manufacturing their eight-shot carts in beautiful mono!

British artist, Ralph Steadman, worked with Polaroids for his Paranoids project, smushing around the chemicals as the prints were developing and drawing atop to frightening effect. Now you, too, can try this at home!

Creative duvet covers

Following on from the other week’s highly successful Creative Mugs blog – it inspired us to buy some new office mugs at least – we’ve decided to make something of a series out of it. This week we’ve collected together some of our favourite duvet covers.

We’re deliberately not linking to any purchasing pages, as we’re into kick-starting ideas rather than shifting product for people.

Of this collection, we’re great fans of the Twister spread, and are particularly keen on the iPhone print – although it’s no coincidence that’s for a single bed!

Anyway, without further ado…

“Sorry, sir, there’s no call for letterheads anymore…”

Farenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury's letterhead, circa 1950s

With the predominance of email comms, letterheads have become almost an afterthought. But until the 21stC, they were an important part of the comms kit of businesses, creatives, the great and the, um, deffo not so… A cool blog, Letterheady, features a cornucopia of letterheads, from the overweeningly self-promoting to the understated. Here are just a few examples, from the sublime to the dangerous…

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Twitter traffic as contoured landscape

There’s a piece over at the Londonist which has alerted us to this brilliant map.

Created by Fabian Neuhaus, at UCL’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, it shows London Twitter traffic as a contoured landscape.

It’s really cool stuff, and we especially like the detail of renaming London’s zones to reflect that they’re now peaks and valleys – Deptford Tor being a particular favourite.

Nauhaus is creating some fantastic stuff on his UrbanTick blog, which is well worth a few minutes of your time, if this Twitter map has got you all a bit excited.

Zimbardo – The Secret Powers of Time

There are three things worth noting about this short film.

1 There’s an innovative theory on how different people and cultures view the world.

2 It’s really well animated.

3 This Zimbardo man is the famous chap behind the Stanford Prison Experiment

The world’s most inadvisable business card?

During this period, Iggy seemed hell bent on destroying his career

A business card can be a beautiful thing, its form reflecting the authority of the bearer and their enterprise. It can also go spectacularly wrong…

Iggy & The Stooges' business card, circa 1974 — translation: 'Don't hire us'!

What Japanese kids do at school

Did you ever do anything this good the whole time you were at school?

Sure I built Bradford-on-Avon’s Saxon church out of cardboard, but I never made an awesome stop motion Mario run round my classroom.

“Off the record, on the QT and very hush-hush”

Ellroy's prime source material - propaganda disguised as a TV tie-in!

Noir icon James Ellroy is well known for his almost seamless blending of fact and fiction, but a recent chance purchase of a copy of 1940s magazine On The QT at a market stall in Bath popped another piece of his creative puzzle into place.

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