Tag Archives: graphic design

SIGN OF THE TIMES: LAIDBACK SURFER HAND GESTURE GETS A SPICY UPDATE

“Shaka” or “Shaka, brah!” Maybe you’ve heard this expression. Maybe you’ve uttered those words in earnest salutation or ironically. Maybe you’re a core surfer living on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, and these words are your go-to, standard form of salutation. You use it all time without even really thinking about it. (For example, when you stride into Ono’s in Haleiwa for a pork sandwich, you offer a shaka to staff at the counter.)

In any case, the word “shaka” and its utterance are but only part of the communications protocol here. Those words are said with an accompanying hand gesture that might be more familiar to many readers than the words. 

The shaka hand gesture, sometimes referred to as the “hang loose” sign, is similar to the “devil horns” gesture associated with heavy metal music. But with the shaka, the pinky finger and thumb are extended outward from the palm while the index, middle and ring fingers are bent down into the palm.

With fingers configured as such, the hand is then raised or extended and often given a little back and forth wiggle or shake, a motion functioning like a wave of the hand, to emphasize and visibly highlight the message to its intended audience.

The gesture is one of positivity. It’s loved by most surfers but also loathed by some surfers, hence the use of the “ironic shaka.” The shaka is undeniably a part of surf culture and has its modern usage and cultural origins in the birthplace of  surfing: Hawaii.

But culture and its symbols evolve. The shaka in the pic above is part of a two-page graphical spread in the zine Can’t Steal Our Vibe that show the gesture altered as a mash-up with the standard “f*ck you!” middle finger gesture.

In this new versions, the extended pinky of the shaka is pulled in, and the middle finger is extended. On first try, it’s not an easy gesture to make with natural fluidity, compared to the shaka.

But no matter. It’s what the gesture means that’s important here. And what does it mean? That’s the beauty of it: For now it’s subject to interpretation. And if the creators have a denotation for it, its esoteric.

We love  that the “F-You-Shaka” hybrid brings together the insouciance, anger and insult of the middle finger with the friendly, laidback “everyone’s a bro” vibe of the trad surfer shaka. These are opposing sentiments and may confuse.

The mashup, we think, is more ironic and captures even more accurately the contemporary core of surf culture: Its rebel semiotics and its knowing cues and tribal codes.

Can’t Steal Our Vibe, BTW, is a zine published occasionally by Lone Wolfs (sic), a surf brand and shop and music studio in Venice, Los Angeles, that uses the new “F-You-Shaka” as a kind of logo on stickers. The title of the zine is taken from a graffiti-like, spray-painted message written on a panel that covered a door that had been shattered in an attempted burglary at Lone Wolfs in 2016. The shop has also spray painted the phrase as a tagline on the side of the store.

PROJECTS: OUR BAND ALOHA DEATH HAS A NEW TUNE CALLED “SHIBUYA”

One of our current projects here at Global Graphic is a music collaboration turned band called Aloha Death.  We’ve just released our second tune! It’s called “Shibuya” (Yay!!!) and you can find it now on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc.

Check out the band website for more details. In the meantime, follow Aloha Death on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

SIDE HUSTLE: WE’RE IN A BAND CALLED “ALOHA DEATH”

The cat’s out of the bag! It’s true, some of the Global Graphica squad are musicians. In fact, they (we) are musicians who write songs and record those songs too! We’ve been loosely collaborating for a while now on music for various projects, but have now officially formed a band.

The name of this musical outfit is Aloha Death. The music and sound is mostly electronic with an artsy, indie vibe and some hip-hop beats and guitars thrown in here and there and some danceable tunes too. We’ve just released a single. It’s called “Sea of Fog” and you can find it now on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc.

We have another single coming out on February 15th, so check back or visit the band website for details. In the meantime, follow Aloha Death on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

RADICAL: COCA-COLA CHANGES ITS TYPEFACE, BILLIONS AFFECTED

This shit for real, y’all. Coca-Cola, the global mega-brand and carbonated soft drink, is getting a slightly new look. It’s changing the typeface used in all its branding and design to a new, bespoke font. It’s big news, so sit down and take moment, if you need one, savvy reader. 

It’s the first time in Coke’s 130-year history that the brand has created its own font. The new typeface is called TCCC Unity (see examples of it above and below). Continue reading

GRAPHIC DESIGN X MATCHES — LIT AF!!!

Our annual New Year’s ritual of doing some house cleaning and organizing, throwing things out and making room for all the stuff we got as Xmas gifts, yielded this small trove of matchbooks and matchboxes. We must have picked up these from various restaurants and shops because the designs struck us in some way at the moment we saw them. Each design is distinct and an exercise in branding. These matches are from the New York City outpost of the restaurant Mission Chinese; James Beach, a restaurant in Venice Beach; Esquelito, a jewelry store in Echo Park, Los Angeles and the Spanish word for “skeleton”; the Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo, New York; and Love Adorned, another jewelry shop with branches in NYC and LA.

EPIC : MURAL ATTEMPTS CHEERY POSITIVITY AMID GRIM DEPRESSING VIBE OF WINTRY DOWNTOWN NYC

The current mural at the “Bowery Wall” (a.k.a., the “Deitch Wall”) in downtown New York City is an epic, colorful composition of 3D block letters and abstract 2D graphical shapes.

The massive painting is by the artist Lakwena and its message “Lift you higher” could be describing the artwork itself. It’s a bright, aesthetically cheery artwork that has all the right pleasure-centering amounts of visual flavor crystals added to it.

Continue reading

Trouble in Paradise: Street Art in Honolulu

We found this street art on a local newspaper box in the kinda gritty, kinda hipster Kaimuki neighborhood of Honolulu. It’s a further sign of continuing gentrification of this drab suburban patch on Oahu’s south shore. Truly, there’s trouble brewing in paradise. The opening of more high-quality third-wave expresso bars is only going to accelerate.

“Man of Malaysia” Book Cover Design

Many years ago, when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I was travelling two or three times a year from the U.S. through the Southeast Asian city state of Singapore. These trips were usually en route to Australia and Papua New Guinea to visit family and make “visa runs” during the summer and winter months. I got in the habit of visiting bookstores in Singapore and picking up a lot of novels along the way to satisfy my voracious reading habit on the long flights and months traveling this part of the world.

In Singapore, there’s a lot of contemporary literature by local writers published in English. One such book was “Man of Malaysia” by Tan Kok Seng. His novel reads like a memoir of a poor, working-class man coming of age and finding a life in a homeland that was going through rapid economic development and social change. For a young, white Western man, his story offered a fascinating and rare perspective. 

Many years later, I stumbled upon this book in a box we unpacked during a move to a new home. The minimalist design and line-drawn portrait on the cover make the book stand out and is probably what first got my attention when I browsed the display tables of a bookstore in a mall off Orchard Road in Singapore those many years ago.

Good design can serve many purposes. One is to invite the viewer in, to pique a curiosity and draw them to further explore. This book didn’t change my life, but it offered profound, unique insight that likely I would not have gained had I not noticed the book in the first place.

-VC