As a kid, I was fascinated by masterpieces of classic and modern literature and ‑like many others my age- dreamed of writing a novel, or a collection of short stories and become a famous literary figure. I even had a very good name for my hypothetical novel, which is so good I won’t tell anybody, just in case I find time in this life to write the book. I was living the lives of Bulgakov, Joyce, Proust, and Kafka and spent days and nights working on my own short stories. Life, however, had a different plot for me, with different characters playing pivotal roles in my life, and to my surprise, my first work that printed maybe in millions was not a novel or a collection of short stories, actually not a bonded book at all, but a package I’ve designed for a fountain pen. It was not an excellent pen and certainly didn’t had a very good package. My “work of art” was judged and used in a very different way than what I originally had in mind, but, it touched so many people, perhaps a lot more than the number of people who might read my stories.
I think, for graphic designers, consumer product package design and billboards are two empowering and critical subjects at the same time. Both of them are “out there” to be judged and experienced by almost every kind of person in society, not to mention that their impact is also measurable in various ways.
This is my first billboard in Canberra, Australia. The brand must attract attention in the shortest span of time (around 2.5 seconds, before display switches to another ad), and should be visible under the southern sun.
Because branding hadn’t defined a secondary colour, I’ve chosen the most visible and noticeable yellow the outdoor advertising industry recommends of LED displays.
The photo is taken by Canon 5D mark II and Canon EF 17 – 40mm f/4.0L USM.
I’m old. Born in 70’s, I have difficulty understanding the later generations, and it’s not limited to understanding younger Australians (which being a foreigner and not having a shared cultural history adds to the complexity), even in Iran understanding the youth was difficult for me. Note there’s no negative undertone to my words; younger generations are way different than me and experiencing a different world from what I saw as a kid. They see and so think differently.
Now, why I’m bringing my midlife crisis into the business of design? Because I want to say it’s very challenging for an old, Middle Eastern guy to design a logo for an Australian musician perhaps a decade younger than himself. Remember, I’m coming from a country which western pop music is officially illegal.
I remember as a kid in Tehran, my older cousins used to party with the 70’s disco music, but they had to dim the lights and hang blankets behind the windows so the police and militia won’t notice there’s a party going on and arrest them. Of course, unfortunately, we were not that lucky, or careful all the time and sometimes we ended up running on rooftops and throwing drink bottles to neighbour’s yard in the middle of the night, removing “evidence”.
Apollo's Echo logo
" data-medium-file="https://i0.wp.com/www.kasra.com.au/emigre/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/logo-e1504081675342.png?fit=128%2C127" data-large-file="https://i0.wp.com/www.kasra.com.au/emigre/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/logo-e1504081675342.png?fit=128%2C127" class="alignright wp-image-1911 size-full" alt="Apollo's Echo logo" width="262" height="260">These ordeals are certainly not good CV bullet points for designing a logo for a Canberra based trendy musician.
Appolo’s echo is a Canberra based growing music project by drummer Mark Levers and his friends.The focus is on 70’s pop and soul classic vinyl as well as making their own original music.
It would be too easy to put some visual elements of the disco era to create the “retro look”, but I tried to re-interpret the 70’s and create a modern look for a living band in the 21st century, not a mimic of dead people of the 70’s. In addition to the challenge I’ve made for myself, I had also a real challenge: the name is too long and hence difficult to put together visually.
I’ve made various typographic manoeuvres for creating a balance of positive and negative space but none of them satisfied me. Also, I wanted the design to be risky and alternative to common conceptions of a pop music band. Australian younger generation — from my own observations — like design to be edgy.
Back to the question of negative and positive space in design, I decided to use a blocky typography so the words can fill each other’s negative spaces and interwind. Also, the Hellenic, enigmatic name evokes the feeling of deliberately being difficult to understand, like a maze or riddle.
Apollo's Echo CD design
" data-medium-file="https://i2.wp.com/www.kasra.com.au/emigre/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/CD.jpg?fit=300%2C300" data-large-file="https://i2.wp.com/www.kasra.com.au/emigre/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/CD.jpg?fit=430%2C430" class="alignright wp-image-1913 size-medium" alt="Apollo's Echo CD design" width="300" height="300" srcset="https://i2.wp.com/www.kasra.com.au/emigre/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/CD.jpg?resize=300%2C300 300w, https://i2.wp.com/www.kasra.com.au/emigre/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/CD.jpg?resize=150%2C150 150w, https://i2.wp.com/www.kasra.com.au/emigre/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/CD.jpg?resize=60%2C60 60w, https://i2.wp.com/www.kasra.com.au/emigre/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/CD.jpg?resize=50%2C50 50w, https://i2.wp.com/www.kasra.com.au/emigre/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/CD.jpg?w=430 430w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px">Interestingly, there is an ancient Persian typography technic named Bannaei script, which has the very same specifications; geometric, maze-like, enigmatic, black and white, and with a uniform line width. It used on buildings and put together by mosaics of the same size, and that’s the origin of the name “Bannaei” (Masonry).
So I’ve created this typography for the logo which I think I think is edgy enough for a Canberra based band, a logo with hidden, ancient Asian identity under its skin, and modern and minimalist like circuits of a chip at the same time.
I dislike irrelevant and out of context usage of foreign cultural elements as much as I dislike the fake “retro” design which is prevalent these days. But this design really happened organically and not because of my background. That’s why I like it. To me, it is very Australian indeed. A beautiful, organic mix of the best of the different cultures.
So here you are; your trendy designer from the dusty streets of the angry Middle East.
Photography for this issue’s cover story is done by fantastic Canberra photographer Andrew Sikorski (AIPP). Visit his website Life in Canberra and you will see there’s not a photo in it which one can’t learn some compositional lesson from it.
Also, we have two aerial shots from Canberra by Tim our editor which are fantastic and show how our aging Canon 5D Mark II and it’s wide angle L lens are capable of producing sharp and detailed landscapes. Some de-hazing is done using lightroom which saturated colours a bit, albeit in a good way. I think shooting a landscape of Canberra is open to all sort of beautiful post processing interpretations and we just had to choose one of those that fit’s the context and looked best in print:
Here are some pages that I like their design more:
Photography was done with two cameras, Canon 5D Mark II with Canon EF 17 – 40mm f/4.0L USM attached to it most of the time for wide angle shots, and — when I had the chance to swap lenses in a short break amid the fast-paced performance- Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM for some close ups and to capture brass and artists under the dreamy light of hundreds of small bulbs.
Telephoto shots were taken by Sigma 70 – 200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM mounted on the tiny, simple and old Nikon D3100.
With the Nikon, at times when the light were too low to focus, I’ve used Nikon AF‑S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G. to get the shots I wanted.
If you forgive my Middle-Eastern mindset which is infused with military terminology from childhood, I believe if ultra wides and telephotos are respectively equivalents of cannons and sniper rifles, normal primes are the dagger; when all else failed, go up close and finish the job.
One of the challenges of the April issue of the B2B Magazine was the choice of photography for Cheif Minister’s message. The good news of growing confidence in ACT’s business landscape rightfully demands pictures of a “hustling and bustling” market, something difficult to get in Canberra, not because it’s not energetic and active, but because of its careful urban design that distributes the population and avoids bottlenecks and crowds, except for festivals and celebrations.
So, I’ve decided to take some long-exposure shots of Bunda street and London circuit at night to communicate the feeling of constant flow of humans in the city.
Thanks to B2B publisher and editor Tim Benson for being supportive and patient with me to try my chances on the night shots.
Photos taken by Canon 5D Mark II, 17 – 40 L USM and a vintage Japanese brass tripod of past century bought in an antique shop for 3 dollars because we couldn’t find the ball head mount of our office tripod.
As always, for those that are interested in design, here is the link to the magazine in print form, as well as a selection of my designs that I like the most on this issue.
Smart Business Guardian is a growing and highly successful business administration firm with a focus on start-ups, entrepreneurs, and small business owners, based in Canberra.
In their quest to create their own mindshare in the Canberra’s crowded accounting and business administration services market, they needed a bold and simple communication approach that appeals to businesses that aspire to grow, but are swamped in day to day administrative tasks.
By creating a story in a series of ads, forging an identity for the brand without adding any extra colours or visual elements to the original branding ‑which is not designed by me‑, I’ve tried to communicate a plain and simple message to potential clients, without adding extra levels of design elements.