Free NASA travel posters? I’m there!

Free NASA travel posters? I’m there!

Did you know NASA created travel posters? I didn’t until today.  Check out the artwork created by the Jet Propulsion Lab team. The hi-rez  “Visions of the Future” series is available to download in pdf and tiff format. And they are HUGE.

Travel posters for cosmos  – illustrator Liz Barrios De La Torre

Scan of NASA travel poster for Europa - illustrator Liz Barrios De La Torre

Travel to Europa

They print out @ 30″ x 20″, so you might need to trot down to the local print house to make a poster sized copy, but, the quality is worth it. Of course you can always shrink them down, but the posters deserve a full size printing and framing. The series also makes kickass wallpaper, by the way.  Under each poster is a small write up about the planet and NASA’s work regarding it.

 Astonishing geology and the potential to host the conditions for simple life make Jupiter’s moon Europa a fascinating destination for future exploration. Beneath its icy surface, Europa is believed to conceal a global ocean of salty liquid water twice the volume of Earth’s oceans. Tugging and flexing from Jupiter’s gravity generates enough heat to keep the ocean from freezing.
On Earth, wherever we find water, we find life. What will NASA’s Europa mission find when it heads for this intriguing moon in the 2020s?
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Get frosted on Saturn’s moon – illustrator Joby Harris

Visit Titan and be awed - another travel poster from NASA - illustrator Joby Harris

Visit Titan and be awed!

Frigid and alien, yet similar to our own planet billions of years ago, Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, has a thick atmosphere, organic-rich chemistry and a surface shaped by rivers and lakes of liquid ethane and methane. Cold winds sculpt vast regions of hydrocarbon-rich dunes. There may even be cryovolcanoes of cold liquid water. NASA’s Cassini orbiter was designed to peer through Titan’s perpetual haze and unravel the mysteries of this planet-like moon.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

There are 15 in the series, and again, free to download and enjoy.  An absolute must is a visit to the “learn more” page to see the thinking involved in the creation process.  They have a great retro, 1950s  feel to them. The colours, design and content made me immediately flash onto my all time favourite sci fi movie  Forbidden Planet (1956) and travel posters of the era.  Turns out there’s a reason: “As for the style, we gravitated to the style of the old posters the WPA created for the national parks. There’s a nostalgia for that era that just feels good. David Delgado, creative strategy”.

Movie poster from Forbidden Planet 1956 - courtesy MGM

Forbidden Planet 1956 – courtesy MGM

Travel poster "Visit the Pacific Northwest" from 1950s

Train travel poster from the 50s

See what I mean – colours, style, fonts and concept certainly evoke the era.  It would have been amazing to sit in on the creative process.  Check out all the posters at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab’s Vision of the Future page – You can download individual posters (each about 200megs in size) or download all of them at once.

It may be pink, but it’s an effective ad

It may be pink, but it’s an effective ad

While standing on the subway platform last week, my eye was drawn to an ad that screamed out “Look at me!”.

Ad seen on the subway platform for Links of London - "Oh Darjeeling!"

The design is simple, simple, simple! And you can’t ignore it. The pink, while terribly over done regarding targeting women, is successful in this setting.  Against the dull subway grime and grey, it’s eye popping.  The fun play on images/words – “Oh Darjeeling” and the cup of tea – plus clean graphics and colour creates a sleek and sophisticated feel.

Whoever came up with “Oh Darjeeling” had a true stroke of marketing genius.

Something a little different – poster for the website

Something a little different – poster for the website

Experimenting with something a little different this week.  I want a create a poster to promote the website. It’s an interesting excercise, if for no other reason to create a sense of focus about the website’s mood. Parts of the poster design will hopefully be incorporated into a basic web redesign sometime this summer.

What I have discovered is I REALLY, REALLY like cityscapes. After combing through my photo archives, I realised how often I take photos of buildings.  I’ve gone back to some buildings a number of times over the years to capture different angles.  It’s been illuminating.  Second thing is how much I like urban and industrial design. No, not the wretched concrete boxes that are often mistaken for design. I’m talking about metals, gears, wheels and factories. I take photos of the most unlikely things, including rusted hinges, patches of interesting metal or cracked brickwork and layer them underneath urban scenes. You don’t get to see much of it because I often toss the work into a big folder titled “experiments” and move on.

I also seem to like rust. Yes, rust as in the stuff you scrap off metal. Rust offers up so many textures to play with, it’s unbelievable.  Oh and shades of brown. No idea why, I just like brown. It’s quite hard to move away from it. So I let myself go with the poster and pulled together a few of my favourite things: rust, skylines, night shots, clean simple fonts, space and the colour brown:
Poster for Bitter Grounds Magazine

My first poster draft had coffee beans in it. While looking at it, I figured they weren’t necessary – this site isn’t about coffee or even espresso so why have a coffee bean on the page? I eventually settled on this cityview. I used a companion photo taken in 2010 on a brochure for someone last year and decided to see if I could transform it into something completely different.  It’s a view of Yonge Street from my balcony on an april evening around 11pm. I must have stood out there taking photo after photo that chilly night.  I layered another photo of a spot of rust underneath, then on a brown layer to give it the right feel.

The fonts gave me the most trouble. I couldn’t settle on what I wanted. I find that happens a lot. I love looking at different typefaces and spend way too much time ooing and ahing over little differences. I needed something crisp and round for the magazine title and a serif font to offset it. It was the U that settled things for me. The main title font is Corbel, because the U doesn’t have a tail. The other font is Euclid because it has a traditional tail on the U. I liked the counterpoint. The lower case G and R were also a deciding factor. I wanted a G that dangled down & remained opened on the title but looked more traditional in the weblink without looking like a static old Times New Roman (which I loath for a number of reasons).  The Rs simply delight me with their tiny upturned tilt in the main title. You can all roll your eyes a bit, look at the fonts and dutifully go “oooo” now.

Not quite sure about the angle of the urban landcape part.  I think I crunched it too close together. I’ll go back and give it another kick later. I fussed about with shadows, etched look etc on the fonts but finally realised simple is best. Plain, clean white font packs a bigger punch than all the fancy dancy effects I tried. Why is that such hard a lesson to keep in my brain?

It’s not bad for a first draft. Now, I just have to figure out how to incorporate the basic feel of the poster into this website.