There was a time, as recently as the 1980s, when storefronts, murals, banners, barn signs, billboards, and even street signs were all hand-lettered with brush and paint. But, like many skilled trades, the sign industry has been overrun by the techno-fueled promise of quicker and cheaper. The resulting proliferation of computer-designed, die-cut vinyl lettering and inkjet printers has ushered a creeping sameness into our landscape. Fortunately, there is a growing trend to seek out traditional sign painters and a renaissance in the trade.
In 2010 filmmakers Faythe Levine and Sam Macon began documenting the work of traditional sign painters, their time-honoured methods, and their appreciation for quality and craftsmanship.
The first anecdotal history of the craft, Sign Painters tells the stories of more than two dozen sign painters working in cities throughout North America. It profiles sign painters young and old, from the new vanguard working solo to collaborative shops such as San Francisco’s New Bohemia Signs and New York’s Colossal Media’s Sky High Murals.
The accompanying movie, also called Sign Painters, premieres in at The Smithsonian in Washington DC at the end of this month. But like Levine's previous documentary, Handmade Nation, the Canadian premiere of the film will be in Vancouver in association with Got Craft?.
The screenings will take place on Friday June 7th and Saturday June 8th at the Rio Theatre on Broadway, and directors Sam Macon and Faythe Levine will be there to answer questions afterwards. There is limited seating and tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. If you're a fan of lettering, typography, or hand-crafted signs, the film is not to missed!
VANCOUVER SCREENING JUNE 7/8
Doors at 6:30pm | Screening at 7:30pm | Directors Q+A to follow
Rio Theatre, 1660 East Broadway @ Commercial Drive
Tickets & additional information HERE
Screening followed by a directors Q&A
A red-carpet-ready post by Megan and Alisha
The Oscars are set to hit the screen Feb. 24, so it’s time to put your party pants on and prep for your oh-so-excellent Oscar fete, complete with games, treats, drinks, and plenty of snark (did you see what she was wearing?!).
Even if you won’t be exclaiming “You like me! You really like me!” to anyone but your cat in the immediate future (Best Supporting Snuggler: Mr. Meowsikins), you can still throw one doozy of a party with a few choice books to help. We’ve put a few books to the critics (staff), and here are the night’s big winners. Plus, check out our handy dandy flow chart for your road to Oscar party glory.
WINNER: Best friendly competition aid
Name That Movie (Chronicle Books)
This book has proven to be a hit with film newbies and movie snobs alike. With a double spread of esoteric sketches in sequential order from a particular movie, the reader has to guess the movie in question. Sure to bring out the competitive side of partygoers, get ready for some fun. And remember, if there’s one thing the Oscars are fantastic at, it’s showing how to be a graceful loser (but if you want to reign supreme, feel free to study the answers at the back of the book beforehand).
WINNER: Best Montage Avoidance Tool
Mag Mixed-Up Movie Lines (Magnetic Poetry)
If you’re like me and need an occasional break from the montage-y goodness of the show, this is your perfect tool. Mix and match famous movie lines, then giggle and glory at your cleverness. “Frankly, my dear, you’re a damned dirty ape and you can’t handle the truth!”
WINNER: Best giggle booster/conversation starter
Film Listography Journal (Chronicle Books)
Use this journal, complete with over 70 hilarious sketches, to list all your favourite movie picks. Go beyond your picks for the Oscar night alone and fill in lists from the classic (favourite films, favourite actors) to the delightfully idiosyncratic (top so-bad-it’s-good movies, scenes that made you cringe). Guaranteed to launch a conversation, especially when you find out whose favourite movie is Weekend at Bernie’s.
WINNER: Best self-esteem enhancing tool
TCM Classic Movie Trivia (Chronicle Books) and 100 Cult Films (I.B. Taurus)
Much like double-sided tape and stilettos can prop up a less than stellar Oscar dress, these books can do wonders for propping up your elite status in your circle of film buffs. Remember, we all know that the true spirit of the Oscar party is not the celebration of film, but rather proving that you know more bizarre and esoteric trivia about movies than your friends.
If the 4000 questions, including “expert only” section, of TCM Classic Movie Trivia isn’t enough to leave your movie aficionado opponents sobbing in defeat, 100 Cult Films will further help you one-up your mates by showing your superior knowledge in not just everyday cult films (scoff) but in cult sub-genres such as Italian cannibal movies and Japanese anime.
The Ultimate Bar Book Seriously Simple Parties
BATTLE ROYALE FOR FILM ESOTERICA CROWN
Name That Movie
Film Listography Magpo Mixed Up Movie Lines
HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTESS
Art & Photography / May 16, 2012
Architecture / February 29, 2012
Almost 2 years later, the award-winning domentary short is now available in its entirety online. Filmed just following his death at 93, Yoshihiro Takishita talks about the house they acquired together in 1967 (while Roderick was working as journalist for the Associated Press in Japan) and muses about the meaning of home:
Film / May 25, 2011
Do any movie studios still have any heart? Anthony Lane in recent profile in The New Yorker magazine (May 16, subscription required) thinks so and the answer is Pixar Studios, the makers of Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monster’s Inc. , Finding Nemo The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille. Wall-E, Up, Toy Story 3 and coming to theatres on June 24: Cars 2.
“Most of us, as we leave the theatre, can no more remember which company produced the film we just saw than we could tell you who manufactured the hand dryer in the men’s room. The exception is Pixar, the only studio whose products people actively seek out. Everyone knows Pixar.”
Pixar is based in Emeryville a small town just across the bridge from San Francisco, hometown to Chronicle Books, another company jammed full of talented people who march to their own tune. As with earlier Pixar films, Chronicle is releasing The Art of Cars 2 a gorgeously illustrated book that is filled with storyboard and original art from the new film. Thumbing through the pages of The Art of Cars 2 is the perfect visual accompaniment Lane’s of Pixar.
I am the father of four year-old and so know the Pixar “oeuvre” pretty well. Our favourite is Cars; for my son because he is lover of all things with wheels and for me (who doesn’t even have driver’s license) because the film is about making connections. My son thinks I am over reading the film (“stop talking daddy”), but I will stick to my guns on this.
The friendship between Lightening McQueen and Mater the rusty dump truck is replay of the archetype of the 'Prince and the Pauper' but also what it means to have best friend. While (endlessly) re-watching Cars I am reminded that in the western cannon far more pages have been filled by theorizing about de amicitia or “friendship” than on Eros or sexual love, because in many respects it is more essential. The film connects — race car and dump truck, small town and metropolis, old and young, red states and blue through the social capital of friendship. Wonderful stuff. Or as Doc Doc Hudson says to Lightening McQueen at the end of Cars: “You gotta a lot of stuff Kid!”
A long time ago… (last week)
In a galaxy far far away … (Downtown Vancouver)
We were presented with several brand new Star Wars books and products from several publishers which prompted someone to ask, “Is 2011 a Star Wars anniversary year?”
Silly, sales reps – EVERY year is a Star Wars anniversary year.
And no day better exemplifies that than today. May Fourth.
And while we’d like to think that the book industry is the omni-present gatekeeper of culture and higher learning, we can’t all publish the Atwoods, the Ondaatjes and the Gladwells. Which is fine by me. This intern here loves the quirky titles that spin off of pop culture icons. I’ll take the Zombies, the Bathroom Readers and the Darcy Romance line any day.
But that’s a blog post meant for another time.
Today it’s all about the George Lucas Empire – in book form.
Here’s a look at a couple of my favourites that have made their way to my desk.
These Star Wars themed recipes are great for all ages and feature scenes from each Star Wars episode using the recipes found inside.
Do you remember all the sea life in the backdrop of Naboo during Episode 1? Or the various animals running around Tatooine? Me neither –but if you ever wanted to impress your friends at your next Star Wars marathon by yelling out “WHOA! Check out that Geejaw” during Return of the Jedi then yeah, this book is for you.
Ok, I’m guilty here. I didn’t actually know there were Star Wars comics. But after flipping through some of the cover art in this collectible postcard set I have to say that I am intrigued and will be picking a couple up. Of particular note – Star Wars Purge: Last Stand of the Jedi looks pretty bad *ss.
The concept art and lighting tests found within this book are amazing. It reminds me of the robots and monsters I used to draw as a kid except those were never made into a multi-billion dollar franchise. Maybe I should pick up a (shameless plug alert!) Doodle Sketchbook from the nearest indie book retailer…
At first glance I thought this book was something my 7 year old nephew might enjoy, but after flipping through the book I realized that this one is fun for the whole family. The sounds will keep anyone entertained (except for my pod mates who cringe at hearing lasers and Darth Vader breathing every 15 seconds) but the real value is in the behind the scenes look at what inspired Lucas and Ben Burtt to create Wookie language and speeder sounds.
After a quick review, I’ve decided I need to find a way to sneak these books out of the office for a closer read, I better practice my Jedi wave… “These are not the books you are looking for.”
In Fall 2007, our friends at Princeton Architectural Press published Minka: My Farmhouse In Japan, the memoir of retired AP foreign correspondent John Roderick. Inspired by the story of this remarkable house and the memories it contained, and with seed funding from the Graham Foundation, Birdlings Films began work on a documentary film about John, his adopted son architect Yoshihiro Takishita, and the 250-year old house they shared.
The film is still a work in progress, but you can watch the trailer now and help support the completion of the documentary at the fund-raising site Kickstarter:
Art & Photography / September 22, 2010
Remember this book? Jason Bitner published LaPorte, Indiana back in 2006. It was a total gem of a project -- in the back room of a small Midwestern diner, Jason discovered a a forgotten archive of over 18,000 studio portraits of the people of the small town of LaPorte, taken from the 1940s to 1960s. A selection of those photos were compiled into book -- a small glimpse into a community.
Now we can learn a bit more about those photos -- and the people in them -- in a new documentary film version of LaPorte, Indiana. The film premiered in LaPorte in July, 2010, and had its Film Festival Premiere in Indianapolis at the Indy Film Fest where it won the "Hoosier Lens Award."
Tucked away in the back room of a B&J’s American Cafe lies a secret history waiting to be discovered: 18,000 dog-eared studio portraits from the 1950s and 60s. From baby pictures to graduation shots to young soldiers heading off to war and beyond, each of these photos hints at a personal story waiting to be told. [...]
Now, the subjects of these portraits share their own life stories: deeply personal tales of love and family, divorce and loss, and the search for identity and one’s place in the world. We also encounter the next generation of LaPorteans, grappling with the decision to stay and begin their adult life in their hometown, or search for opportunities elsewhere, a truly universal dilemma experienced across America and beyond.
Check out the film trailer. For more information on the film, visit Laportemovie.com.
A core group of architects embraced the Coast with its particular geography and values and they have left behind a legacy of beautiful and inspired dwellings. Today, architects have picked up the thread and they continue to explore and celebrate the principles established by their predecessors.
Produced by Leah Mallen at Vancouver's TwoFold Film, Coast Modern is a documentary about the legacy of modern architects on the west coast of North America. Filmmakers Michael Bernard and Gavin Froome travel from Los Angeles to Vancouver and explore the history of modern architecture from 1922 up to the present:
The film is still in production and yet to be released. In the meantime, if you're interested in historic west coast modernism, you might want to pick up Forgotten Modern: California Houses 1940-1970, a beautiful book on the innovative mid-century architects working on the west coast, and NorCalMod: Icons Of Northern California Modernist Architecture which documents history of modernism in the Bay Area.
Or, if you're a feeling in the need of something more kitsch, Googie Redux: Ultramodern Roadside Architecture takes a look at the iconic 1950s coffee shops and car-oriented mid-century architecture of Southern California (we still have a few copies in stock!).
"Typography is what language looks like" — Ellen Lupton
The film references designer, typographer, and educator Ellen Lupton, whose books include Thinking With Type, Graphic Design: The New Basics, and DIY: Design It Yourself and more. Her new book Exploring Materials: Creative Design for Everyday Objects will be published by Princeton Architectural Press later this spring.