Welcome to the latest Studio Spark, where the CWA design studio shares whatever has been sparking our creative imaginations over the past 7 days – whether that be Art or Design, Film or Theatre, Music or Dance, Technology or Nature…

Here’s this week’s roundup.

Sundance tin types

Written by David Neville

Sundance tin types

Portraits of celebrities taken at the Sundance Film Festival by photographer Victoria Hill, using a large format camera loaded with aluminium plates coated in chemicals to replicate the tin type method.

The short depth of field and lighting really gives these images an ethereal, magical quality.

See more here and a short video of them being created below.

Arty & crafty

Written by Martin Lovegrove

Art and Craft

Art forgery has always fascinated me. Thinking back to when I was young and spending countless hours copying from MAD magazine or the Asterix books, partnered up with a keen eye for detail (particularly good in ‘spot the difference’ puzzles), then the art of perfecting that image I was replicating was all-consuming.

Art forgery in the grown-up world is bad, we know this. But there has always been a part of me that cheers for the faker. “Good on them”, I always say. It shows real talent to get one past the buyer let alone the auction houses.

Art and Craft is a documentary about an artist called Mark Landis who has been called one of the most prolific art forgers in US history. For over 30 years he has donated hundreds of paintings in a wide range of styles and periods to galleries and museums all over the United States. He feeds these institutions with fake back-stories claiming to be a priest, a wealthy donor or, more often than not, an executor of a will.

Diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager, Mark just wanted to be liked and respected while honouring his deceased parents through his own brand of philanthropy.

The registrar of one such institution, Matthew Leininger, discovered what Mark was up to and has made it his mission to expose him to the art world, eventually confronting him at a public exhibition of his work.

Mark is now focussing on his own artwork which you can see, or even commission, at marklandisoriginal.com

One bright dot

Written by Chris Nobbs

This is a charming little animation, following the path of a ‘bright dot’ as it diverges into many thousands of separate strands of light before reconfiguring into a singular source, making its journey via various objects and lifeforms on the way. It seems to symbolise life and vitality, as well as playing with ideas of microcosmic worlds. You could imagine some advertisers falling over themselves to use something like this, for example in the energy or logistics industries, but part of the appeal of this is that it seems to just be a piece of creativity in its own right. The animation is by Clément Morin, and is beautifully soundtracked by Etienne Forget and Hugo Thouin.

Classics revisited

Written by Teresa Bembrick

Design Classics

Some people think that being a designer is about either drawing pretty pictures or just putting some words and photos on a page. It doesn’t seem to hold the high esteem that I think it deserves. The growth in home computers, design software, iPads etc made the opportunity to design available to all. But does it make you a designer?

Items we take for granted today have all been designed by someone, whether it’s the humble egg box or a complex fighter jet, every element has been carefully thought through, designed, engineered and crafted to make sure it’s not only functional but also beautiful. It’s the same for any 2D literature, which has been carefully thought about and designed to be aesthetically pleasing while delivering the intended message clearly. For any designer, creating something is always a labour of love.

So let’s have a look at a few classic designs you’ve probably used and probably thought nothing of at the time…

Polypropylene chair – designed by Robin Day, one of the best known furniture designers of the 20th Century, you probably sat on one of these chairs at school, in a canteen, arena or even a hospital. In fact it’s the best selling chair in the world.

London underground map – designed by Harry Beck, a technical draftsman who designed the diagrammatic map in 1931 so that all the stops on the line could be include in one simplified diagram. He understood that because the lines ran underground they didn’t have to be physically accurate as this was irrelevant to the traveller, who just wanted to know how to travel from station to station.

Biro pen – designed by László Bíró, an impatient Hungarian newspaper editor in 1938, who noticed that the ink used in newspaper printing dried quicker than using a fountain pen. He worked with his brother to design a new pen tip that would distribute the ink evenly and dry quickly without the need for blotting.

British road & motorway signage – by Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert from 1957 to 1967. Their road signage became a role model for modern road signage all over the world.

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