Tag Archives: print design


“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.

A Visit from Apartamento Magazine Editor Omar Sosa … Los Angeles

We recently attended a small talk with the co-founder and editor of Apartamento magazine, Omar Sosa. The talk was at one of the creative marketing companies run by mega-global advertising agency TBWA in Los Angeles. Sosa (pictured at right in the photo above) with Emilien Crespo, the talk moderator at the agency, spoke at length about how he and his designer friends started Apartamento in Barcelona in 2008 and how the magazine has grown and developed a devoted, almost cult-like, global readership.

We’ve been picking up copies of Apartamento since the first time we spotted it on the rack at the McNally-Jackson Bookstore in New York City way back in 2009. Part of what sets the magazine apart is its documentation of what it calls “everyday interiors.” Rather than showing slick images of pristine, carefully-staged, aspirational living spaces in the tradition of many commercial “shelter” mags, Apartmento shows the spaces of various creators in their cluttered, lived-in, natural glory and in a more intimate photographic style.


The New Issue of Acid Magazine Just Arrived …

Issue No. 3 of our favorite Euro-centric, global, artsy, small-format indie surf magazine has just arrived. We love Acid magazine, and this issue is a keeper (but aren’t they all? Yes, they are.) Lots of beautiful photography, essays and art in this one.

The previous issue was pretty awesome, too.




Cool Magazines … “Acid,” An Indie Surf Mag

We’re loving Acid, a fresh and artsy surf magazine based in Europe. In issue Number 2, pictured here, there’s beautiful photography and photo essays and fascinating personal essays about surf adventures in unlikely places like the southeast of England where waves are extremely rare and the Eisbach River in Munich, Germany, hundreds of miles from the sea and many more from an oceanic surf break.




WTF Awesome … The “RGB Colorspace Atlas” by Artist Tauba Auerbach

A couple of weeks ago, we stumbled upon the magnificent “RGB Colorspace Atlas” (Volumes 1, 2 & 3) by New York-based California artist Tauba Auerbach at LACMA in Los Angeles. The artwork contains paper-page cubes and a book or “atlas” of digital offset prints of all the possible color variations in the RGB color model system. The work was recently acquired by LACMA as part of its permanent collection. We’re hearting it very much.





In L.A. … Frontpages of Los Angeles Newspapers




We’ve gone to Los Angeles for a few days to experience some art currently on view at LACMA and MoCA and to check out some new spaces in DTLA. (We’re also catching up with friends and squeezing in a few hours of surfing, of course.) On our first day, we started our morning with a strong cup of coffee and copies of L.A.’s two main broadsheet newspapers (actual news on actual paper!), the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News. The front pages of these are pictured above. It’s so rare these days that we consume our news via newsprint.

Design & Style … “Journal de Nimes” in Amsterdam


The clothing store Tenue de Nimes is among Amsterdam’s most influential purveyors of denim, clothing and style, if not its foremost. The shop reliably stocks an impeccably curated selection of well-made clothing, jeans, shoes and accessories, including a lot of limited edition items. The shop also publishes a popular tabloid-format magazine on newsprint called Journal de Nimes and recently delivered edition No. 9 of the magazine in English marking their 5th anniversary. Beautifully designed and illustrated, this issue of Journal de Nimes provides a Best Of list of the owners’ favorite places in Amsterdam to eat, drink, find culture and even get tattoos. Other highlights are an interview with Yuki Matsuda (of brands Yukaten and Monitaly) and a visit to a Japanese textile-making workshop.








Super Minimalist Bianchi Bicycle Magazine Ad

Brand-awareness ads in magazines rarely come as simple, bold and minimalist as this two-page spread for the Italian bicycle maker Bianchi in the Dutch cycling mag Soigneur. Aside from logotype and slogan on aquamarine-like blue, the pages are blank. Love love love the color.





“Automobiles” Illustrated Examples Feature in Inventory Magazine

Our hearts have gradually been won over by the craft, quality and personality of Inventory magazine. It seems that there are zillion niche independent “lifestyle” magazines in the world already and — in spite of the Internet — more seem to quixotically appear each month. The magazine is more about the life style of some of the lesser-known people creating and influencing the art, fashion/style and culture we consume. But it’s also about creativity and engages in whimsical exploration of design like in this Illustrated Examples feature titled “Automobiles.”