Production. ITAP

Favourite expert? Stefan Stagmeister.

Born in Austria, right now based in New York city. Has it’s own design firm – Stagmeister Inc. Won Grammy award for art directing ‘Once in a Lifetime‘ box set by Talking Heads. Released two books: ‘Made You Look ‘ (2001) and ‘Things I have learned in my life so far‘ (2008). Also works as a lecturer in the graduate department of the School of Visual Art in New York. Has been appointed as the Frank Stanton Chair at the Cooper Union School of Art, New York.

And I like him not because of his awards or jobs he has, you just look at his work! It is design mixed with art. Some dreams. Smart thougts. Life experience. Fun. Hard work. And fantasy.  Open his web page. And you‘ll see not a simple homepage – it is an actual camera, recording his office at the moment, so you can actually see what is going on there! And by clicking on the particular sticker on the floor you are redirected to the ‘normal‘ web page. He is one of the people who brings ideas. New ideas. New concepts. New thoughts. His designs are optimistic, I really like colors, shapes, different materials he uses. 

Book ‘Things I have learned in my life so far ‘. Divided into 15 unbound signatures in a laser-cut slipcase, so you can have 15 different covers. More about the book:

At the opening of exhibition in New York. A wall of 10,000 bananas. Green bananas created a pattern against a background of yellow bananas spelling out: Self-confidence produces fine results.

Talkative chair.

First printed book in Europe? Johannes Gutenberg‘s Bible.

Although the first printed book is thought to be ‘The Diamond Sutra‘ , in Europe printing (with movable type) was invented only in 15th century. The first major printed book is said to be german printer‘s and publisher‘s Johannes Gutenberg‘s Bible (published in 1455). Gutenberg experimented with printing single sheets of paper and even small books, such as a simple textbook of Latin grammar, before beginning his work on the Bible around 1450. Although there are a few hypotheses, that Gutenberg was not the first to invent printing in Europe, there are not enough evidence to support these theories.

It is also called 42-line Bible, because it has two columns of text and 42 lines in each column. The number of lines was increased during the printing proces, some pages have only 40 lines per column.

Making of Bible. First of all Gutenberg‘s printers printed the main text areas. Then red headings and lines througt each caital letter were added by hand. The last stage was for a skilled artist to add the large capital letters and decorations.

Obsession. Stefi

Pradėjau va tokį dalyką. Apie apsėdimus. Apie žmones. Apie dalykus, be kurių jie negali gyventi. Nes visi turi kažką keisto. Arba per daug normalaus.
Visada laukiu naujų žmonių, kurie nori įamžint savo apsėdimą. Pomėgį. Įprotį.

So I srarted this thing. About obsessions. About people. About things they can‘t live witout. Because everybody has something weird. Or something overly normal.
I am always waiting for people who want to record their obsession. Habbit. Hobby.

The first one.
Stefi. Has different nail color every day.


Dream. ITAP

Science of sleep. 3 act structure. 
First of all sorry for spoiling the movie for those who haven’t seen it yet. That means you should go away and not read this until you watched it! Because it is amazing. Mind blowing. I feel that I still can not understand it completely after watching a couple of times, you can find new details every single time you see it and interpret the main characters differently every time. Oh, happy crazy people.

And yes, more or less it has a 3-act structure, which we have to analyse. And it is not so obvious and predictable as in commercial movies, especially in box-office Hollywood production. 

Beginning. Movie starts in an unusual way. Studio. Later we understand that it is the mind, head of the main character, where all secrets desires and the most important - dreams - are hidden. Protagonist moves into new house and meets his new neighbours – that is the end of Act I in my point of view. This movie is also unusual, because protagonist’s equilibrium is destroyed even before the movie – his father died and he moves to the other country, to his childhood apartment of his mother. And there goes another crash – love.

Crisis. Can I have her number or can not? But maybe I love someone else? Not her? Can I quit my job? How should I say I am her neighbour? Why it is so boring? Who are these people? Why she does not love me? Would she marry me? How can I tell her? It is the crisis of protagonist’s mind, his feelings and desires, he does not know whether it is reality or a dream and how to cope with his feelings, how to reach her? Furthermore he hates his job, his colleagues at work are crazy and he has this job only because his mother knows the director, so what’s the point? Love, relationship and dreams dreams dreams mixed with reality – Act II consists mainly of these things.

End. Protagonist is fired from his boring job, he is ready to move back, but first of all he wants to say good bye. And it all ends after the deepest crisis. He is asleep. Dreaming. So the second equilibrium is also reached after the movie – we can only predict he reaches the state of happiness, because we are on the cliff hanger– what is he going to do when he wakes up?

Character. Who doesn’t know the most famous story of toys? Toy story! And it’s main character – Woody!
The most simple model of a doll ever, made from cloth, soft, flexible – the most ordinary, but (as we see in the movie) leaving the best memories and the best feelings for the owner. We can see a very clear cowboy’s image – brave, strong (although he looks slim and weak), has very strong characteristics of leader, smart, but is supportive and perceptive as well. Yes, lacks originality, because it is a perfect stereotype of a hero (though a toy hero) who looks weak in the beginning, but solves all the problems in the end. Wears usual cowboy’s attributes – checked shirt, jeans, boots, 
sheriff star and of course – hat! 

Stupid. ITAP

Visual hierarchy. First of all you notice the image. You think about it, because it is not usual, it is fun, but what is the idea of it? Then you notice text, big colorful letters, simple font, it is hard not to see it and at last you want to know - what is this picture about? Than it makes a lot more sense and you can come back to the image, rethink it, search for more details. It is smart, but stupid. Would you ever do something like this?
This is my favorite advertising company of all times, I guess. Developed by Anomaly – film/ advertising agency based in New York and London, launched by the international jeans  brand and it is really good illustration of all our studies so far, I think. Diesel ‘Be stupid’. Search for an inspiration. Think irrationally. Do not be afraid to take risks. Make stupid things. Be stupid. That is what they say.


Legibility. It is one of the five principles lecturer have been talking about in the ITAP lecture.  And I have found an amazing booklet of Orange mobile – ‘Mobile phones: what parents need to know’, which I think illustrates this principle really well. This is really amazing work, a collaboration of graphic designers, photographers and illustrators. In my opinion the leaflet is designed for middle aged people, parents, who are not really interested in new technologies or even do not understand anything about it. It is smartly done and contains a lot of useful information. First of all, page format is quite unusual, non-standard, it has much more length than width and the cover seems to be really informal, that attracts the eye from the first sight. Primarily you could think that it is something for children – the cover looks like it is been drawn by child, but later, when you read the title you understand that it is actually a booklet for adults. We can see domination of only a few colors – white, black, dark blue, and, of course, the main color of the company – orange. Information and pictures usually take one page – that makes it easier to understand the structure of the booklet. Text is divided into two columns, font is simple, letters are quite big – it all makes it very legible and clear. Simple design of text part lets us notice photographs as well. They are big, clear, quite colorful, single-paged and decorated with really smart illustrations, which pictures each chapter of the booklet. Illustrations are done only black and white, so they stand out from the whole picture and become the most important part of the page. They contain the main idea of the chapter and the point of view is unusual, it makes the reader of booklet smile. It is designed really smartly, pictures and text emphasize each other, it is not overcrowded with unnecessary information as well. It is really worth seeing this booklet for inspiration of smart and minimalistic design.

Light. ITAP

          They say: by understanding the various ‘practices & processes’ of illustrators, designers, photographers one is able to progress and advance one’s own practice and through the ‘visual practice’ of observation, collecting, studying and exploring a subject, topic or theme, this will contribute to a deeper understanding of the subject.

So there I am, researching and learning about the natural lightning and lightning in the studio to gain that understanding of the subject. Because for the first time I was shooting in the studio! It is amazing there, but anyway I felt confused, there were too many things, too many unknown devices for the first time.. Despite that the shoot was really interesting and funny, I will post some pictures soon! However, that is why I decided to do some research in this area. A couple of weeks ago I brought home a book called “Lightning for portraiture photography” by Steve Bavister and it seems to be really helpful. The structure of the book is very simple, it is really easy to understand the content, theory, try to use that practically and understand actually how the lights were set up, what the artists have done to achieve particular style of an image. The book contains explanations of all the used equipment, terms for all things. Also you can find a brief about starting a career in photography, market of portraiture photography, styling advices and, of course, mostly explanations about the light. By the way it gives a short explanation of how you should act and communicate with clients and models, how to use all abilities and surroundings for the perfect background and foreground, of course. It shows an example of  a world famous practitioner and than explains how the lights were set up, what equipment was used by describing it in words as well as including the actual scheme of the lightning set up and technologies used. Also the photographer himself explains his basic idea and how he managed to achieve the goal. The book is really simple and it emphasizes one thing – simplicity. Fancy, creative lightning does not always work and what the photographer should do – decide what he wants to achieve, consider the best way to reach the goal by choosing the most efficient equipment. In many of those examples ambient lightning or ambient mixed with a reflector or a single light (flash or a tungsten) seem to have worked the best.

There are some portraits that I really liked from this book.


Jeff Dunas(, work from his exhibition “State of Blues”, shot with 140mm lense, 1/400sec at f/11 and the most incredible – he used only one electronic flash with umbrella.


Nigel Harper’s ( personal project, picture called “Amelia with cat” using 10.5mm Nikon fisheye, 1/60sec at f/4 using only ambient light and reflector. 


Joachim Baldauf (, “Egg”, photography done for the “Amica” magazine using 105mm lense, 1/30sec at f/8, using only one electronic flash.



Pauline Neild (, “Neon tubing”, press photography, no additional lightning, 28-105mm at f/4.

Storm and Rene. ITAP

Here I would break the rules and write less. Because it is less I have to say. Artists would talk for himselves. Storm Thorgerson. One of my favourite artists, without a doubt. Artist, photographer, designer – he is known for working in all  branches of art. His fantasy, point of view, technique – I love everything he does. He designed CD covers for hundreds of very well known artists from Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel 1) and Pink Floyd (Back Catalogue, the Wall) to Muse (Absolution) and Audioslave (Audioslave), collaborated with world-class artists, created number of books, logos, illustrations, posters, designs.. Countless pieces of work, real and surreal at the same time. I am not going to talk about him much – his works talk for him. Necessary to cast a glance at his works here.

Anyway, there is a question – how does he stay so creative? Where all his ideas came from? The past I would say. And René Magritte, of course. Storm thorgerson is a great example of getting inspiration from other artists, but not reproducing their ideas, just  making those ideas his ideas, represent them in differend way, watching from a differend angle. It is obvious that we can not compare techniques of these artists, Thorgerson – digital artist the most and magritte – classic painter, but point of view, seeing of the world and ideas – that‘s what unite them. Magritte teaches how to make the audience think, he is thought-provoking specialist, teacer of Storm Thorgerson and a number of other artists. You can visit his museum in Belgium.

Some work of both artists


Some inspirations. ITAP

Managing creative environment

Japanese artist’s Kyoichi Tsuzuki’s home and office in Tokyo. Tsuzuki is an artist, journalist, editor, art curator, nightclub designer, book publisher and latterly, photographer, he has made it his life’s mission to reveal and define creativity as it manifests itself outside ‘high’ or mainstream culture (The Photographers' Gallery, 

Abigail Ahern is now heralded as  one of the hottest designers in the UK. She works with the interiors, furniture and decotation, brand development. She is known for glamorous and multilayered, colourful style (

Artist‘s studios and the whole environment is creative, if they feel the lack of ideas they cam grab anything they need from the shelf and start generating ideas. The environment is also very personal, collection of books, journals, toys, decorations, stationery, paintings, artwork, computers – everyting we can see is useful, everything seems to have place in almost overloaded interiors. Memories, new stuff, information, they just have to grab it if they need any of these, but every single thing is important, nothing is there wothout a purpose. Collection of books also help to generate new ideas, to rest from old work, to charge yoursef. It gives more cosiness to the room, more intimacy and artistic mess. Maybe for other people half of the stuff could seem to be totally unuseful rubbish, but in the artist‘s hands it becomes more than this, it becomes start point of ideas, of job, it becomes inspiration and grows into something huge, something that you can not be apathetic.

For a little peek into artist‘s working places and inspiration:

Restating problems


Horacio Salinas – amazing artist, a conceptual still life photographer, currently based in New York. His work is stunning, surprising, full of research and is very gamesome. The artist looks at things in an unconventional way, he creates the whole story from the most simple things, solves problems in most unbelievable ways and his works can have so many meanings,  for example the Feather spray can. For ones it can seem as a graffiti art promotion, for others it can tell the story about harmless paint, about the love between spray and the wall, story about flying.. His work is designed for the visually-thinking man, for a smart, intellectual viewer, who could understand a metaphor and irony in his works. Every single peace is inspiring, it makes you think of how has he actually came to this conception, how has he stated and restated the problem? It looks amazingly simple, but at the same time you understand that it might take ages to create such a picture. The works are extremely technical, inspirational and contemporary. Composition, lightning, placing  of things, every single object has it‘s place, form and meaning. Works are not overcrowded, we can say they are minimalistic. Unpretentious background of the picture lets the viewer concentrate on the main object, which is carefully chosen and integrated into the whole concept. His work is not just to be admired yet to be challenged. It makes you think, makes you want to create something your own, something simple, but stunning.

Sketch. Think. ITAP

Principle 2. Brain
This is one of the pictures from the project called ‘If Drawings Were Photographs’ by Tom Edwards and Rob Matthew. First of all artists made sketches, drawings and then tried to convert it into a photograph. It is a playful piece of work, which made artists create, think and play with the ideas and generation, search for a fun and interesting way of turning it into image. How can this painting turn into image? What materials, colors, techniques to use? Those were the main questions for the artists. The audience artists are referring to might be optimistic people with a sense of humor, people who could understand that this work is done including game as well as analysis. And the final piece makes the audience smile, feel playful and ask questions as well. It stimulates imagination, creativity, allows us feel like a child again, makes us think of how they have found the decision of the problem. The dog in the picture is ironically humanized by using glasses, the background is simple, we can see the walls of the apartment, the simplicity of camera parameters, poor flash, lightning, bad focus, everything is simple, ordinary things, including composition and atmosphere, it also shows that the artists were not developing extraordinary ideas, they just tells us that even with the most simple things you can create something more than a dull everyday photography. Some people might not like this picture and the whole project for low quality and parameters, but the most important in this is the idea itself, the simplicity and minimalism in both, illustration and photograph. It captures attention, surprises, makes us think, frown or smile and all in all you can really love it or hate it.

Principle 5. Reflection
This is a fragment from Eugene Delacroix‘s (1798-1863) sketchbook. At the time, at about 1830’s famous French painter was travelling in northern Africa with the diplomatic mission, just after French invasion to Aleria. Artist wanted to escape from civilisation, know different, primitive people and culture. He was drawing everything he saw around him, as we can see in the picture: people, faces, landscapes, shapes, moments of life, warriors, diplomats and also he combined drawings with text, brief notes of memories, explanations, ideas. Text and drawing combined together complete artist’s thoughts, it relflects each other and helps to remember original ideas better than text or drawing sepparately. Artist was not searching for the perfect composition and details by sketching, though the colouring and drawing are realistic, the artist tried to record everything that surrounded him, create and remember some simple ideas for the future generation. First of all these sketches were designed for himself only, for discovering, developing new concepts, thoughts for paintings, it was recording of travelling and exploration of new, differend, unknown wild world, but on the other hand, nowadays we can analyse it from historical point of view as well, as his notes and sketches gives us a lot of information about the incidents, life and war in nothern Africa.

Taken from:  Artists's sketchbooks