The Grand Graphic Design of The Grand Budapest Hotel

By Archives, Design No Comments

So you’re an ad agency art director toiling on the latest campaign designed to make some mundane consumer product seem really cool. No way that kind of experience will ever get you to Hollywood, right?

Consider Annie Atkins.

Previously an art director for McCann Erikson’s office in Reykjavik, Iceland, Atkins had the job of convincingly bringing to life Wes Anderson’s Dream-like, pastel-infused Eastern Europeanesque town of Zubrowka in the film The Grand Budapest Hotel. Yes, the movie that just won the Oscar for Best Production Design.

Atkins painstakingly designed almost every single aspect of the film, including: typography and lettering by hand for currency, passports, newspapers, signage, stationary, police reports—all of the things you see on a regular basis in any town or city.

“A fictitious country needs all kinds of graphics: flags, banknotes, passports, street signs,” Atkins told Quartz. “It’s impossible to imagine graphics like these. You have to do your research and you’ll find treasures that you couldn’t even have begun to sit down and draw until you saw them in front of your eyes.”

The Grand Budapest Hotel was a project of enormous proportions.

“It was crazy,” Atkins told Creative Review. “There was a tremendous amount of graphics in this one, so my script breakdown was as long as my arm. There’s probably more to graphics in film than is immediately apparent. If a character has a notice board in his office, for example, then you have to fill that board with relevant material, all in the right style for both the period and the director’s vision. You’re not always designing for the camera: much of this work will never be seen by a cinema audience, but still you have to create an atmosphere and a world for the actors to work their magic in.”

Atkins has been working on Sam Mendes and John Logan’s show Penny Dreadful, and Steven Spielberg’s up-and-coming cold war spy movie thriller “St. James Place,” which is set for release in October.

I believe it’s safe to say we will continue to see more awe-inspiring work from Annie Atkins in the future. She is a bright, talented designer and I look forward to continuing to follow her work. She is a true inspiration to the creative field.

 An exhibition of Annie Atkins’ work on The Grand Budapest Hotel, Annie Atkins: A Brief Survey of Graphic Design from the Empire of Zubrowka (1932-1968), is at the Light House cinema in Dublin until March 24. Details here

See more of Annie Atkins’ work here


JaimeNashHS2Jaime Nash
Art Director

Design Matters

By Archives, Design No Comments

Design and technology are inevitably linked. Yes, designers are taught typography, grid systems, color theories, and other fundamental design principles and concepts. At the end of the day, great design comes down to critical thinking and making use of eminent technology. There are so many choices available to consumers in our ever- changing digital market place. Companies must ensure their products and services are meaningful and relevant. Companies must begin to understand that it’s not just good content but exquisite design that matters just as much, especially design that optimizes the perception and experience to all media a consumer is using and engaged in.

290-x-175_Design-Matters_WEB-1One of the biggest misconceptions made by businesses is that design should be an afterthought because it doesn’t effect the bottom line. This is an extremely backwards and flawed way of thinking. In reality, the exact opposite is true.

It takes a consumer 1/20th of a second to decide if they like the design of a site or not.

The number one indicator of credibility is good graphic design, according to a study by Stanford University.

Visual Appeal Trumps Usability in influencing User Perception

First impressions are everything. We know this to be true because of priming, which is the activation of specific memories that influence subsequent behaviors. Therefore, the first impression influences every subsequent interaction. This is why a well designed web site PRIMES people to have positive interactions with your brand moving forward.

Design unlocks better businesses, better thinking, better insights, better services, better advertising, better publishing, better content. And all of this leads to better customer experiences. This is how companies like Apple, Samsung, and NIKE have built their wealth. It’s through design-led thinking.

So by incorporating the principles of design strategy and process into a business model, companies can successfully compete on a global stage and build their bottom lines.

So design truly does matter, more so now than ever before. With consumers being bombarded with content, advertising, and marketing materials every second, the best design will take precedence and capture more consumers even over great content.

JaimeNashHS2Jaime Nash
Art Director

Impala App: The Future of Smart Photography Is Here

By Archives, Design, Tech No Comments

290-x-175_IMPALA_WEB-1Many smartphone owners are familiar with photo filter apps like Instagram, AfterLight, Aviary and Fused, all of which facilitate the most aesthetically pleasing image. These are the offspring of worldwide innovation competition combined with the ever-increasing power of smartphone chips. In addition, digital giants like Baidu, Facebook and Google provide server-based image identification features.

Into this arena steps Impala App from Euvision Technologies (recently acquired by Qualcomm). It’s believed to be the first “smart photography” technology solution that both modifies and categorizes photos completely within a smartphone—no servers required. Available free from the Apple ITunes and Google Play, Impala automatically creates a series of labeled folders (such as animals, automobiles or mountains) and places these images into folders to assist user in locating them.

Morever, Impala has taken blocking content to a higher level. It’s one of the more interesting and exciting capabilities of the app. Just as software like Photoshop prevents users from uploading a file containing a scanned federal banknote, Impala has applied these engines to assist media platforms to moderate content.

For an example of these impressive capabilities, Impala is trained to recognize hands. Hands were chosen for representation of color, texture, and shape of certain unwanted scenes. Once the hand becomes visible in the camera’s field of view, the hand is pixilated, and the recording button is made inactive preventing the capture of the image.

Now replace that hand recognition for Adult Content Classifier and this technology goes to another level. It also does not store questionable images on the cloud. Could this be the end of celebrity nude hacking scandals? Hollywood should be cheering. TMZ not so much.


JaimeNashHS2Jaime Nash
Art Director

Google Unwraps Android 5.0 Lollipop

By Archives, Design, Tech No Comments

By Jaime Nash

Google is aiming to be the Sultan of Sweet (design) with its universal visual language for users of the new Android 5. Lollipop user ANDROID-LOLLYPOP-290x175interface, visions of which began to emerge in early November under the company moniker Material Design.

Far more than simply added pixels, Material Design (formerly cross-platform design) synthesizes the rules and principles of good graphic design with the innovation of technology and science. It replaces KitKat.

Google’s goal with Lollipop:

• Create a visual language that represents a metaphor based on shared user experience
• Develop a single system to allow for a unified experience throughout Google’s platforms and devices
• The company’s desire to write The Bible on interactive design

Lollipop brings a raft of new features to Android devices, from a single typeface and specialized color pallet to greater sharing across devices. The design emphasizes flat elements and bold colors. Lollipop enables new uses of color (including full-bleed images) along with a modern, crisp and clean, cutting-edge graphic design. Think of the space within your Android devices not as flat lands but as small topographical environments and you get the picture.

And while Lollipop might have been created in service of consumers and customers, it is most certainly intended to assist designers to end poor designs that lead to confusing and products that are difficult to navigate.

Early press on Lollipop highlighted such non-visual improvements as greater battery life and a Screencasting feature that transmits your device’s screen to your TV via a Chromecast dongle.

Want more info? See for yourself at


JaimeNashHS2Jaime Nash
Art Director