Craig Ward Straddles Two Worlds
When you consider Craig Ward’s typography, you’ll notice that it tricks your eye. Using components that are in alignment, or contradiction, to the themes of the words Craig is styling, his work acts as a visual punch line. Every element is carefully calibrated into constructing the final image he offers, filling it with commentary. The question it asks, beyond the content, is form. Is it real? The answer is a resounding yes. But to create these considered compositions requires a mix of the tangible and intangible. The real and the invented meet half way.
To achieve these ends, Craig has to work in two different disciplines. He’s neither an illustrator nor a photographer, but has to employ both sets of skills to get these results. It’s a balancing act that not everyone understands. But, that’s okay. Craig’s happy to do his alchemy on his own. Even though he started with straight up typography not long ago, he wanted that extra angle. So he dug deeper. “Working with more photography is something I started a few years ago,” he says. “I don’t even know why I started doing that, it was just something I wanted to try. It’s an evolution.” As he’s evolved, more and more of his recognizable work comes from the manipulation of photographs rather that the creation of illustrated images. This tangible provenance gives a level to the images that cannot be replicated in pure illustration. “It’s got a bit more soul to it, which I like. There’s nothing perfect about it,” Craig explains. “So I like to embrace that. I like the crumbs and the things you can’t really account for, that’s what I really like to embrace in the work.”
For his latest project with Ohio Lottery, they asked Craig to get into the holiday spirit and channel the iconic images of Christmas. Pulling from wrapping paper, mistletoe, and fruitcake, Craig and Ohio Lottery wanted to tell the story of a new tradition: giving a lottery ticket instead of a typical holiday bummer. The most challenging piece was the fruitcake.
To keep the image dynamic and editable, to make sure the client got exactly what they needed, Craig ended up compositing the final image with between 30 and 40 photographs. But, it’s cake. So he started with cake. “I went out and bought some cake mix, and made a few different cakes over the weekend. Just to sort of try and get the right color, the right base color,” Craig explains. Then came the cherries. He photographed cherries of all shapes and sizes so he would have the variety necessary to compose the final image. He even baked a few extra cakes with cherries inside them so he could get the accurate aesthetic of inner-cake confections. By starting with photography Craig was able to retain a reality that would be missed in a super clean illustration. Craig needs those rough edges and honest imperfections. “You’ve got to really try to make things not look good,” Craig says. “So I like to embrace that.” No one’s holiday is absolutely perfect, but that’s why we like them.