An Artist's Process with Craig Ward
An artist’s process is ever-evolving, as not all jobs are created equal. While some creators rely on their practiced expertise, others are on a path of constant discovery, eager to push boundaries and manifest something new. Artist Craig Ward throws himself into his briefs and approaches each project with an open mind, ready to marry the needs of the client with any medium or procedure necessary.
Craig is no stranger to working with new materials in his work. “Fire, powders, light, smoke, food, money… I’ll use anything that helps the type headline better tell a story. I guess the most exotic ‘material’ I’ve worked with is bacteria; living organisms. The materials for the Adobe project, by comparison, were much simpler, just a mix of glycerin and water.”
In his latest collaboration with Adobe MAX, Craig was inspired by the idea of creative energy for the Core MAX logo. The logo consists of 6 triangles, so Craig’s process began by printing out a set of geometric shapes to build out the broader identity and patterns. “I pitched a handful of ideas around the theme of creativity - it being 'The Creativity Conference'. I liked the idea of somehow visualizing creative energy - the hum of a busy studio; the buzz of solving a brief, etc. I looked at a lot of ways of visualizing different energies - bubble chambers, lightning rods, but cymatics is a concept I’m familiar with that gives a lot of interesting results relatively quickly. It's a way to image sonic energy (sound waves) by vibrating liquid at different sonic frequencies.”
“The process involved a lot of trials with various lighting setups, art directing the shoot, cycling through various frequencies and photographing the resulting vibrations. The post-production on the backend was handled by myself also. I work with a photographer called Linden Gledhill and his background is in immunology. He's super smart and is also a keen photographer, so he’s able to combine his scientific know-how with photographic know-how, particularly when it comes to scientific processes. The hardest part was doing the maths for high-speed imaging. The LED's strobe at a certain rate and the waves vibrate at another so we had to work out how to sync up the strobing of the lights with the frame rate of the camera AND the wavelength of the vibrations. Not super easy stuff for a visual person.”
Some briefs require Craig to create his projects new from the ground up, while others entail working backward to break down elements that already exist. In his recent project with Time Magazine, Craig Ward deconstructed the UK flag and influenced the cover story’s subject line.
“Time came to me with the brief to interpret this headline, which was, at that time, “The Plot To Dismantle Europe”. I gave them three concepts that I came up with over that weekend. When you’re creating a magazine cover, it’s all about being easiest to see on a newsstand and attract people’s attention, so initially, I had sort of pitched this idea of the typography being stitched into the title on the top of it,” explained Craig. “I went out and found some fabric and sat down with it at the scanner. I frayed it and pulled it apart, as best I could, and scanned it in six or seven times, and just sent over a few selects of that in these various states of disarray. I went in with photoshop to color in every stitch to make it look like it was stitched, but I was very proud of it because it was a reflex, probably one of the better reflexes in a while actually. Even up close it holds up, in fact, it looks better up close than it does farther away.”
Most of Craig’s work is created to accompany a larger reveal, be it a new brand or product, a new company launch, or even a new idea in a headline. For his project with Time Magazine, Craig’s art had an influence on the overall story. “This always happens with editorial, but they changed the headline at the very last minute. It was actually very flattering because they changed it to “Unraveling of Europe” to fit the cover that I came up with.”
Craig's unique approach to the execution of the briefs from both Time Magazine and Adobe MAX took the extra step to elevate and bring the message in his typography to life.