• 4.10.18 Craig Ward's Nike World Cup Kit for England Started with a Surprise

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    The World Cup, the biggest quad-annual football event (second in all sports only to the Olympics), is right around the corner with all eyes poised to turn towards Russia to watch the games. It’s the pinnacle of play for many of the athletes involved, but even as a few dozen players will be called to play for each team, many fewer designers have ever put their market on the kits. For this World Cup, Nike invited Craig Ward to create a bespoke typeface for the England uniforms, an honor rarely offered. “It’s a pretty wild thing because I’m only like the third designer in history to touch the England kit. It was me, Neville Brody, and before him, it was Peter Saville,” says Craig. “Traditionally whoever is doing the kit just chooses a regular font for it. So, it was no small beans on a personal level.” The request came from an unexpected place: a message on LinkedIn that Craig caught just an hour before the pitch meeting. But the request also came very early: Craig’s been working on his final design for years. “I started it literally spring 2016, and it was like 19 rounds of work over the next 18 months,” Craig says. “Sometimes it would go weeks and weeks between feedback coming in so it felt a little long just because of the nature of the process but it was pretty wild to see it go out a couple weeks ago in the Friendlies.” Putting a typeface on the backs of England’s players is no small feat. Not only do the designs have to look good, but they also have to meet the legibility standards of a handful of unions, ensuring that the jerseys provide the information needed by coaches, players, referees, and many more.  But Craig is known for his inventive typography, so there was a balance to be struck. “The brief was what you’d expect – Dynamic, Contemporary, Sporty, and British. They really wanted it to feel very English,” explains Craig. “I started by doing a little research on the classic British fonts like Gill Sans, Johnston, Flaxman which is the New Scotland Yard typeface. They’re all geometric and clean.” Not only that, but Nike also asked that Craig somehow incorporate the St. George’s Cross, the contemporary flag of England and the central red cross in the flag of Great Britain.  Craig used the cross as the base for a lot of two-dimensional designs but then started looking at the problem from another angle. He brought the exploration into a new dimension. “We hit on this idea of using the cross as a sweep around a curve and modeling it in 3D,” Craig explains. That’s where the intruding lines come from: they show the movement and shape of that cross moving its way through space. England has played two games in The International Friendlies with the new kits so far, and you won’t be surprised to hear that they’re playing well. “Undefeated! One win and one draw so far,” says Craig. And obviously, we know what to credit the success of the team to: Craig’s amazing typeface. “It’s all about those dynamic, geometric typefaces, of course it is,” he says with a laugh. “First thing they see when they get into the changing room is their names, their numeral – and that kerning is sick.”
  • 4.23.18 We Are The Rhoads Show You Malibu Through the Eyes of the Locals for Esquire

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    Everyone’s flocking to Malibu. The city, just west of Los Angeles, is known for its incredible beaches and hills, and with the new faces comes a growing community of creatives. Photography duo We Are The Rhoads, a.k.a. Chris and Sarah Rhoads, who live in LA, have experienced the growth personally as it represents a part of their own creative community. “It’s the new destination on the West Coast for artists and non-artists,” Sarah says. “There’s so much happening there, creatively and in the food scene; hoteliers are opening up these really cool little spots along the coast. So, Esquire reached out to capture this movement that’s happening.” The story they shot for Esquire's Big Black Book (out now), all about the people in and around Malibu is a beautiful distillation of the life and culture in the area. Plus, they got to do it with some friends. It’s not just the land and ocean that dominate the images The Rhoads composed, but also their friends and creative compatriots like Elderstatesman owner and Creative Director, Greg Chait, hatmaker Nick Fouquet and Outerknown Creative Director John Moore. “It’s just always cool to work with people that we are friends with but also that we respect creatively,” Chris says. “That’s always a great collaboration when you are not only capturing and documenting and collaborating with people that you find visually interesting, but you also really respect the work that they are doing. That always offers really cool end results.” They’ve known some of the subjects for years, and over that time all of their work and relationships have developed. The Rhoads found it incredibly satisfying to share that with Esquire’s audience. The energy in an around Malibu is specific to the place and the people, and even as more and more artists are attracted to the area and bringing their own point of view, the pull of the place has its own personality. That cannot be faked. When The Rhoads and Esquire compiled their list of subjects, they stuck with folk who live there and that made all the difference. “It worked really organically because we were putting them in their natural environment, habitat if you will. It wasn’t like we were flying in New Yorkers and putting them in places they don’t hang out in LA,” explains Sarah. “It was very much a California story with California people. We would try to really dig into where do they like to go, where do they like to hang out so it felt very true, honest, because that’s really what we were after at the end of the day. It was telling a story that felt true.” The Rhoads’ responsibility is to the audience, to show off what Malibu is really like, and no one knows that better than the locals.
  • 4.23.18 Tom Corbett Warms Up the Icy Queens of Broadway's 'Frozen'

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    Disney’s ‘Frozen’ is obviously one of the most successful children’s movies of the last few decades, with kids (and parents) all over the world singing their favorite songs from the animated musical. Unsatisfied by merely dominating the animated genre, Disney turned the film into a stage musical that just opened up on Broadway. The New York Post’s fashion imprint ‘Alexa’ got the two leads of the show, Caissie Levy and Patti Murin, for a feature article with Tom Corbett on hand to photograph the actresses on location. For Tom, photographing the story at the theater is a unique thrill. “I had the opportunity to shoot the main cast from Broadway’s ‘Frozen’ and they wanted to shoot in a theater setting which I always love,” says Tom. “I love the dramatic elements you get with the lighting, playing off the negative space and using light from behind. Theaters have so much negative space you can work with so I just love working there. We had a lot of fun playing around, painting with light, and trying to get some drama.” Tom took full advantage of the space, bringing the actresses from the stage to the house (and backstage, too) filling the negative space with beams of colored light and plumes of smoke. When the house lights are on, a theater can read as a big empty room filled with seats, but when it’s handled by someone like Tom it turns into an epic space for powerful moments. Frozen is a new icon in the pantheon of fairytales, but Tom and Alexa didn’t want to lock this shoot down to the single production. The story was about more than just the performances and processes that these two professionals went through. So, they went out of their way to make the story timeless and removed from what will ultimately be a fulfilling but temporary part of each of these women’s careers. “We saw some serious actresses and wanted to treat them as such,” Tom explains. Instead, the shoot reveals two women at the top of their game, dominating this particular challenge, who will eventually take on another and another and another like the queens that they are. You can catch both Levy and Murin in ‘Frozen: The Broadway Musical’ now.
  • 4.12.18 Vault49 Creates Pepsi's Entire Identity for the UEFA Champions League Final

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    “For the fans, football isn’t a matter of life and death; it’s much more than that,” Vault49 explains, showing why they were the perfect creative partner for Pepsi’s UEFA Champions League Final campaign. More than just ads or cans, Vault49 created everything from the ground up and the process was fully comprehensive. “Vault49 was proud to be invited to develop the sponsorship identity for Pepsi and leverage it across packaging and key visuals to celebrate moments of football passion,” says Vault49. “We sought to turn the focus from the game to the fans themselves and the multitude of moments that stir our passions throughout a game of football. From the tension and banter of the pre-match build-up, through the rollercoaster of the match itself, to the eruption or heartbreak at the final whistle. Our campaign illustrates how these moments of passion are as relevant to a local kick about in a park among friends as they are to the glorious stadiums around the world.” Vault49 didn’t just write the copy for the campaign, they also created the hand-painted typography that appeared on cans, bottles, and posters, ideated and executed the photoshoot for the advertising, and completed the story with gift sets that included t-shirts, tote bags, and posters. All told, it was an amazing opportunity for Vault49 to create such a comprehensive identity for Pepsi, and one that they fully enjoyed. “For Vault49 and our team of football fans, projects don’t come much more exciting than this, and the creative synergy between Vault49 and the Pepsi team made this project a pleasure from start to finish.”
  • 4.13.18 Take a Ride Through History with Emiliano Ponzi's Newest Book

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    It’s hard to get lost in NYC: the city is set up on a grid. Just follow the numbers! The subway system, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. A jumble of tubes skate all over the five boroughs, changing direction and trajectory as they go along. It takes a real expert to navigate the subway by memory. But if you’re not an expert, you’re in luck: Massimo Vignelli oversaw an amazing map of the subway system between 1970 and 1972. Emiliano Ponzi was so charmed by the artist and the story that he created a book that examines the process of creating the map. The book is called ‘The Great New York Subway Map’ and it’s filled with illustrations by Emiliano that take cues from Vignelli’s work. “He has a very clear idea of what was good and what wasn’t good, aesthetically speaking. And he wrote this book that I really love called ‘The Vignelli Canon,’ where he stated all his guidelines he gave himself regarding his graphic designer aesthetic,” Emiliano explains. “So what I like about working on this project is I was able to apply the same principals as Massimo told in his book.” Emiliano’s aesthetic is obviously his own, but when telling the story of Vignelli’s work, he went the extra distance to emulate Vignelli’s style. It wasn’t just the work of aesthetics, but ultimately became about process and seeing differently. “What I tried to do was to design every image at least five or six times so every time I redesigned one illustration I was about to rationally think about if I needed the details, maybe I could take a detail out,” Emiliano says. “So that was like the biggest challenge and also a very hard one… This is a little more minimalist than my usual style.” Vignelli’s subway map took an incredible complex transportation apparatus and turned it into an easy to read map that could fit in your pocket. The only way to do that is distill, distill, distill and Emiliano brought that to each page of his book. MoMA invited Emiliano to help them host an Art Making get together at the Design Store for kids to get creative. For Emiliano, this partnership with MoMA is something of a dream come true. He used to walk the galleries in wonder and now counts the museum as a collaborator. “Looking at the museum three years ago when I used to work on 53rd street, and now I have another feeling because now I have a deeper connection,” he describes. “I’m very excited, I’m also excited because I also feel responsibility to pass a good message to children.” His best message to pass onto the children? It’s okay to be confused, especially when creating art. “Being confused is normal because we can find order out of chaos. So being in a chaotic situation is also sometimes useful to come up with a good idea or a good project.” ‘The Great New York Subway Map’ is available for purchase now.
  • 4.9.18 Revealing the Real Jon Hamm with Marc Hom for Esquire

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    Before Mad Men, Jon Hamm had been kicking around Hollywood for the better part of a decade but it wasn’t until he landed the lead role in the AMC runaway hit that he became a critical darling. Mad Men ran for seven seasons over eight years, launching Hamm into the spotlight. It was amazing for Hamm’s career, but any time an actor becomes well known off one character it can often turn into a liability. Now that the show is over, it’s time to leave that character behind and that’s exactly what Marc Hom was tasked with for the cover of Esquires Big Black Book with Hamm. “My biggest challenge for the cover was to take him out of the Mad Men 50s era,” Marc explains. “And just trying to make him look a little bit more rugged, a little bit more real. We created the whole setting in this garage in Canada and just brought in the different kind of elements to create almost like an artists’ studio with some elements of steel and making him a little bit more hardcore and not so refined.” Removing that familiar context meant getting closer to who Hamm is which is exciting for Hamm. His upcoming projects are deep and rich: his current film ‘Beirut’ looks at the Lebanese city in the 80s, he’s taking a turn as the Archangel Gabriel in an upcoming TV series, and his voice acting for animated comedies seems to be endless. He’s doing a lot that has nothing to do with his previous characters, and it couldn’t be better. “He seems to be very excited about getting out of this shadow of his past,” says Marc. “I think he just felt good and was a really an organic shoot. He was just into it. The styling isn’t overly fashion oriented, so it’s more as you would think he would be in real life.” Instead of that tired trope of Hamm as Mad Men’s Don Draper, we’re seeing Hamm as Hamm. To see more of Marc Hom’s work, check out his portfolio.
  • 4.20.18 The New Face of New York Politics: Cynthia Nixon Photographed by Marco Grob for New York Magazine

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    All eyes are on Cynthia Nixon. The New York native was a professional actress before even leaving school, shooting to fame in the New York-based series Sex and the City, but it’s the search for her next role that has the whole state talking. Just last month she announced her bid for Governor and already she’s changed the entire conversation. As the state turns their eyes towards Nixon’s run, New York Magazine featured her story for the cover and asked Marco Grob to photograph her. Marco’s image is simple and singular: it’s an extreme close up of her face, filling the entire page offering itself as a proxy to the woman who is making the current governor, Andrew Cuomo, surprisingly fearful. We’re confronted with her human nature, her stillness, her presence. It’s a face we know from the stage and screen, but the state hasn’t known her to play the role of a politician before and she’s surprisingly effective. In this short campaign, she’s already forced the governor left on issues like Marijuana Legalization, the embattled MTA, and New York’s unique faction of “Independent” Democrats who vote with the Republican caucus. The look on Nixon’s face in Marco’s image is one of confidence and serenity, a look that has put the fear of the future in Cuomo’s political career as his lead narrows despite a massive war chest and political apparatus. There’s no telling how this election will end up. When Nixon threw her hat in the ring she was written off as a hapless celebrity, but as her poll numbers rise and her impact is already felt in Albany, NYC, and all over the state, this is turning out to be a much different kind of race than most of us expected. But from Marco’s cover of New York Magazine, it looks like Nixon knew this was coming the whole time.
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