Having worked on several Danish clients and projects over the last few years, each experience has consistently reminded me of the Scandinavian preference for simplicity. It surprises me every time and if pressed to describe the process on my work it would be something like this – step one: design something as stripped down as possible, step two: strip it down 50% more. Then you have probably achieved Danish minimalism.
To keep this skill sharp, I decided to practice it on a series of animal icons that (for the most part) employ just lines and twists with a slight shadow to emphasize the two elements. I’m sure it’s still 25% “over the top” if you asked a Dane-off-the-street, but I quite like the effect.
Here are 4 icons each for water, land, air, and small things from the animal world.
Every once in a while I challenge myself to a handmade project. This time it was a pair of owls based on some earlier drawings and inspired by Sarah Goldschadt’s miniature owls. These owls are the supersize version with the addition of floppy wings that are great for playing peekaboo.
Click here for Sarah’s mini-owlie tutorial.
Penguins are funny little creatures, but like most things nature makes, penguins have some hidden talents. According to the experts, “the light front and dark back coloration of classic penguin plumage is called countershading and it provides superb camouflage from above and below to protect penguins in the water”.
Here is a book project I have been working on with Kristoffer Fynbo Thorning and Tine Fris, both Danish musicians who also enjoy collaborative group processes. They have combined their interests into a book filled with icebreakers that focus on musicality and movement to help groups get into the groove.
The book is still in progress so at the moment I can only show the cover design and a few illustrations from the exercises in the book. Design-wise, the client wanted a fun and informal look while still feeling professional enough for a variety of groups. An illustration style was developed to clearly show exaggerated body shapes, emphasize movement & sound, as well as maximizing the quantity of illustrations created for a start-up budget.
On a personal note, I saw Kristoffer, Tine, and their musical group Postyr Project perform a concert in Copenhagen at a local church. The exact opposite of a born again revival, it was an evening of interesting a cappella combined with digital experimentation (imagine a singer waving their hands over an iPad to control a series of sound loops while funky IKEA lights turn on and off in the background depending on what tones are sounded). AND there were snacks and alcohol served afterwards in the vestibule. That’s just how the Danes roll.
Here is one of my favorite songs from the evening called “My Future Self”. It was performed live pretty much in the same incarnation using four voices and an iPad.
Check out their website for the Icebreakers book here, where they also have an IndieGoGo campaign in progress for helping fund production, outreach, marketing, and design.
In the shared creative office space where I work, there is an old freight elevator in the middle of the room. It is surrounded by 30-foot peaked ceilings, raw ceiling beams, a view into an inner-courtyard typical of Copenhagen buildings, and all the stark and minimalistic Danish interior decorating trappings such as black and white lights, decor and social areas.
The elevator isn’t used more than once in a blue moon to haul something heavy up to the top floor – I don’t think anybody really notices it. But when I enter the light-filled room and near the elevator door on the the way to my desk each day I’m presented with this small sign, which for a second causes me pause.
In Danish, it’s nothing special – a “goods elevator”. But in Danglish, a special blend of Danish and English which I use to navigate my multi-culti existence, this is GOD’S ELEVATOR. The full Danglish translation might read:
500 kg Gods
Only 1 person may accompany
Gather round all you sinners, all you thieves – I’m starting a new side business selling tickets to heaven. More details to follow once I figure out the logistics. But if I institute a price point that one might expect on such a service, I should be able to retire early.