Blog Archive - December 2016 View All

Filter By:


An Art and Architecture Competition

December 29, 2016 by Klaus Uhlig

Designing for free is not considered a best practice, as I’m a Registered Graphic Designer working in Ontario. Teaming up with a former classmate and now Architect, Paul Backewich and fine artist, Stewart Jones, was another matter as we collaborated in the 2017 “Warming Huts: An Art + Architecture Competition” conducted by the Manitoba Association of Architects. 

A blind jury selected designs that best “push the envelope of design, craft and art.” In the new year, three winners will construct their entries and the structures will be deployed along The Red River Mutual Trail. At 5 km, it is the longest naturally frozen skating trail in the world. 

Our proposal addresses the struggle that members of the aboriginal community have had transitioning from being a people of nature to a people of the City. At its simplest level, our proposal is a testament to the canoe as a conveyance from camp to camp, providing transportation of both people and goods. 

At another level, canoes along a bank signalled shelter, warmth, community and (ideally) welcome.

Using the length of the canoes vertically as beacons identifies that this is a place of warming, shelter and community with the central fire pit providing the primal need for comfort. The exterior of the hulls would be clad in natural materials, attached in a way that will allow for replacement (new branches, new bark, etc.) while the inside of the hulls were to be painted with urban scenes that are reflective of life in the towers and canyons of the modern — and possibly alien  — City. 

Did we win? Not by selection, but definitely through the enriching experience of collaboration of unrelated creative disciplines. We’re stronger and better because of it. Thank you Paul and Stewart.

Learn more about:
Paul Backewich
Stewart Jones 
Warming Huts
The Red River Mutual Trail


Creating the WOW!

December 19, 2016 by Klaus Uhlig

Think about painters; what does their art say about them? For most (if not all), it’s their form of expression. They express their creativity by brushing (or splattering) colours, shapes, designs and interpretations across a canvas. Graphic designers also expresses creativity by choosing colours, shapes, font, imagery and interpretations but their motivations are not about self-expression, they are strategically and objective driven.

A creative director enters a project by examining the problem or proposal, interpreting the need and thinking through the early phases of the project to develop a vision. This vision may cross a breadth of media from print to digital. And it’s then the graphic designer’s job to turn that vision into a tangible reality.

Once the client’s brief is understood, the next critical step in this process is my briefing to the team — which includes the graphic designer, copywriter and often even the production artist, photographer and illustrator.
  As a creative director, I provide an overview of the vision and the objectives of what is likely needed. But it is my designer who delves much deeper; my designer goes beyond the surface level of what I’m conveying and scrutinizes why we’re doing it in the first place. It’s that intelligent dive that uncovers the crucial components that are translated into the design and if all goes well that is when ‘the WOW gets created. WOW equals the memory hook — the stuff that sticks.

A good graphic designer gives life to the vision by setting the tone and mood, which in turn generates the right emotional feeling and gives the piece its vibe. This creative outcome is often the culmination of weeks or months of work to develop a communication plan, new branding initiative, marketing strategy or determining key messages; if the tone is wrong, the audience won’t respond.

Although as creative director it is my job to conceive the initial direction(s), it is not my job to dictate the concept or design. Based on the communication criteria and my mentorship, it is the graphic designer who explores creative avenues by sketching out interpretations and crafting a few iterations of the proposed design to present to the client. By doing so, he or she tinkers with colour palettes, typographic pairings and grid structure to evolve a visual direction that meets the needs of the client.

Not only does the graphic designer create the visual look and feel, if they are practiced in their craft, they also engage with the writer to determine the tone and direction of the narrative. Their engagement often crosses over to include working with illustrators, photographers and all others who serve a role in a project’s success.

The graphic designer doesn’t go “wandering into the woods,” but instead is challenged to break the ground to form a clear path and bring that initial vision to life.

Read other posts in this series:
In the creative process, writing shouldn’t be DIY


Erzgebirgische Volkskunst

December 16, 2016 by Klaus Uhlig

Ore Mountain folk art
is a well-known form of artistic woodcarving. I received my first piece from my Omi who lived in Saxony, in the former East Germany. For my second Christmas I received a miner who stands proud and formal, holding two candles.

As our father recalled the story of the craft, the mountainous region south of Chemnitz and Dresden, bordering the Czech Republic was a economically depress area and since the early 17th century miners that where unable to
continue their work underground resorted to this hand-carved and turned folk art to earn an income. From that craft, a tradition was born.

Now every first Advent, or thereabouts, our family and my family carefully unpack our much loved treasures and display them for family and friends. So today, nearly 60 years on, this little family set of figurines — Father Moon, Mother Sun and Stars — grace our home and I share them here with you.

Merry Christmas!