Song of the Sea is a unique animation, directed by Tomm Moore and nominated for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year to the Academy Awards 2014. It wins you over through stunning visuals in a way that at the end of the movie, even if you liked the plot or not, you can’t feel anything else than mesmerised by the amazing artwork with deep roots in the Irish mythology and folklore.
A nice surprise is that Song of the Sea is a traditional animation made up of hand-drawn illustrations. It strikes by its simplicity of execution with attention to symmetry that flows from natural lines and geometric patterns. As Tomm Moore states in an interview for Vox:
2-D for me just has a timelessness. It doesn’t age the same way that CG does.
The mythological creatures are as beautifully drawn as the backgrounds. An array of emotions is captured by geometric designs in clean lines. The characters are all built to showcase the legend of the selkies, that are living in the sea as seals but also on land as humans, similar to the mermaids. How not to be fascinated by eccentric and quirky characters that reveal stories of their own and bring emotions in flasks?
The palette of colours is wide, from pastels to vivid hues of blue and green to paint the sea. It is present the warm feeling of watercolours that draws you more into the story, making it feel “a bit mysterious” like Tomm Moore puts it, ending by saying that “it has a dreamlike feeling”. Dreamlike it is also the genius use of light that creates an even more magical, mesmerising atmosphere. All nicely embellished by the patterns on rocks and tree barks and the textures used on surfaces.
If you’re still not fully convinced, here’s what Tomm Moore himself says about his lovely animated film:
open yourself up to a gentler, modern fairy tale, to see something that’s more organic and handmade and full of heart and not so much of a commercial endeavour
Full of magic and emotion, this tale is visually incredible! Must watch if you haven’t already and please let me know your impressions!
Developed by ShaoLan Hsueh and illustrated by Noma Bar, Chineasy is a visual-based learning system that teaches Chinease in a non-painful way and even more, quite creatively!
ShaoLan created a system of building blocks, compounds and phrases where the building blocks are basic characters and the compounds their derivates while phrases are formed by putting them together, side by side. Each building block is represented by a simple illustration that makes it easy to remember and the same illustration is adjusted in a way that makes sense to bring to life a compound. Below you can find some examples of the concept and also of the brilliant graphics that enhance the learning of one of the most difficult languages in the world.
I have learned about Chineasy last year at Design Museum in London where it was part of a 6-month exhibition following the nomination received for the Best Design of the Year.
It all started one year earlier in February when ShaoLan Hsueh gave a 6-minute TED talk to prove that even though the Chinese language seems to be to an outsider “as impenetrable as the Great Wall of China”, you can still “learn to read Chinese with ease”!
She then launched on July 23rd a project on Kickstarter that got funded in 10 days for £75.000, reaching 200% of the target in day 16 and raising in the end £197,630 from the contributions of 5,475 people that believed in this great idea. That seems like a successful campaign! 🙂
The Chineasy products consist of the Chineasy Book (physical and ebook), 60 Flashcards and 100 Postcards that can be bought from various online locations including Amazon. A second book will be released in Chinese New Year 2016 and I am sure that ShaoLan will come with many other surprises in the future given the fans that Chineasy gained during the time.
Have a look on the Chineasy Facebook page as it is daily updated with quizzes and new phrases, building a strong community of learners. You’ll be welcomed if you’d like to give it a try and you might catch up in no time!
As learning and visual communication are my main interests at the moment, I could not be anything but deeply fond of this project that makes so obvious the role of visual communication in the learning process.
What is your opinion: do you find this a strong example of innovative design?
Born in Israel, Noma Bar is an artist, illustrator and graphic designer that studied graphic design and typography at the Jerusalem Academy of Art & Design. He moved to London in 2001 and he has exhibited worldwide, winning various design awards.
His graphics are very flat and constructed from geometric shapes with bold colours, conveying powerful messages through exquisite simplicity or as he states:
“maximum communication with minimum elements”
Cleverly using the negative space, his work is always thought provoking. You need to look at his graphics more than once because each of them is telling a story usually by hiding an image into another image. He talked about this in December last year at The Culture Show – France 24.
“I’m trying to create a story, I’m taking the viewer from one point and he evolves with my work and people see things, they change their mind, they go back, they discover more, there is a mini-journey, a mini-script.”
Therefore, his work is all about exploration and discovery, enticing to looking closer and searching for clues and meaning.
“I’m trying to find the spark, when something is there and it’s not there”
Very impressive is his project entitled Cut the conflict for which he engaged the social community to contribute with materials from countries living in conflict. These have been gathered by the artist and brought together in works that embody both war and peace, finding with this concept a way to make them live together peacefully.
One other project I am absolutely in love with is Chineasy by ShaoLan where he contributed as illustrator. This is a project meant to teach Chinese characters in a fun and easy way through simple illustrations that Noma Bar created with his brilliant clarity.
He is also the author of two books: Guess Who? The Many Faces of Noma Bar and Negative Space, the first one presenting witty caricatures of celebrities, political figures and cultural personalities and the other the dualism between negative and positive space, a dominant in the artist’s work.
See more of Noma Bar’s work on his Facebook page where he regularly uploads new graphics to feed your mind and soul. And let me know what you think about it, aren’t you wondering how does he do it?! 🙂