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.
This wheat-pasted street art of two dogs is awesomely colorful and cute. It’s also tiny, smaller than the palm of a hand. It’s miniature street art, which is cool. But it would be even cooler if it was the size of a small building, because the artwork itself is beautifu and could have such great impact at a larger scale. The artwork is in an alley behind Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, Los Angeles.
The logo for Intelligentsia Coffee’s “Black Cat” Espresso is the head of a black cat. It’s a bold and literal graphic with class and style, rendered so that the cat’s head is seen from a 3/4-angle, giving it some visual dimensionality.
Intelligentsia has put the Black Cat logo on some of the various cups and saucers it uses at its various architecturally-inspired cafes. Transferring the branding across these is a straightforward 1:1 application of the literal logo. Sometimes, whether you’re drinking Black Cat espresso or not, you get your coffee served in one of these Black Cat-branded cups, and these look pretty cool.
But Intelligentsia has also created some variations of the logo and occasionally, if you’re lucky, you’ll get your coffee served in a black ceramic cup and saucer, where the Black Cat logo is rendered in a lightened gold hue. It’s elegant its knocked-out contrast to the black ceramic.
When you get your cappucino served with this black cup and saucer set, it’s kind of special. The black and gold add another layer of smart sophistication and a dash of mystique to the brand. That the cat is in gold instead of black is a deft touch that, for those familiar with the usual logo presentation, may be seen as an aesthetically clever and playful twist on a familiar and already likeable and strong visual cue.
All this further supports the larger Intelligentsia Coffee brand and reinforces the company’s reputation for great design and well-defined sense of style, whether expressed in the architectural design of its cafes or the form factor of its ceramic mugs or the high-graphical aesthetic of its coffee packaging and t-shirts.
We’ve seen these mysterious circular stickers of a boy’s face around Los Angeles in recent weeks. The face is drawn in a style that reminds of the graphic novels of Charles Burns. There’s something a little creepy about the face. The eyes are beady and suggest evil thought. The stark blue-on-black drawing adds to the layer of darkness and intrigue. Send us a note if you know who the artist behind these stickers is or the story behind them.
In this example above, Ukrainian artist Nastya Ptichek has taken a series of classic Edward Hopper paintings and wryly incorporated the everyday graphical elements we see across websites like Facebook, Google, Instagram and Twitter. Ptichek has created similar mash-ups with classical and Renaissance paintings.
Among these billboard postings on Broome Street in New York’s Lower East Side is an ad for local classical-music radio station WQXR’s “Month of Mozart” program. As in some of the station’s previous marketing campaigns, the ads make reference to contemporary popular culture and employ a clever pun. In this case, the phrase ” I Am a Deus” references American hip-hop star Kanye West’s recent “I am A God” song and Mozart’s name. “Deus” is the Latin word for God and forms part of Mozart’s middle name, “Amadeus,” which was also the title of a 1984 film about the famous composer.
The ubiquitous Adam Cost put up these Space Invader wheatpaste posters recently in the Lower East Side of New York. The iconic, classic videogame graphic images is a subtle nod to the presence of French street artist Invader who was visiting New York that week for a film launch and putting up a lot of his famous Space Invader mosaic street-art installations around downtown.