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Getting intimate with the classics

19 Mar

These are among the most beautiful examples of architectural photography I have ever seen. The photographer took full advantage of the movement, light, and natural construction materials used in the design.

When I fist saw the top image I was blown away by the design of the room, the beautiful skylights, and the afternoon sun streaming in.

Then I realized I was inside a violin. As a classically trained violinist I probably should have been quicker on the uptake.

These shots are part of a larger campaign for the Berlin Philharmonic, with the tagline “closer to the classical.” “Closer” is an understatement: we are looking at the inside of some of the most recognizable (from the outside) classical musical instruments.

Did you know what you were looking at right away?

(photos courtesy of


Every Dog has its (bad) day

27 Feb

Gender identity, obesity, fidelity, and well, stumbling into one of your parents more intimate moments are issues that people face every day. The “Dogs have issues too” print campaign from Ireland/Davenport in Johannesburg, South Africa imagines our best friends in some of our worst nightmares with heartbreaking results.

Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer’s host, uses behaviour modification techniques to rehabilitate dogs with problems ranging from minor inconveniences to excessive barking, carpet urination, and aggression.

The need for help and support through emotional and behavioral issues is not a uniquely human one. This campaign does a great job of using some uniquely human issues to bring a sense of connection to these canines that I’m sure we can all relate to on some level.

Concept-wise, it doesn’t feel like we’re being sold the same idea four times. It’s nice to see a series use repetition with such a nice amount of variation though-out. This feels like a robust little campaign.

And you can’t deny the creative on these ads is great: each is a simple scene with a perfectly subtle amount of content. I bet you had fun scanning each one to find the issue at hand. Kudos to the art directors on this one – it’s hard not to feel sympathetic for these little guys.

It isn’t obvious whether they were able to achieve the dog’s expressions naturally or through the help of some clever photoshopping (although I suspect this is the case), but either way, the heart-breaking emotion on their little dog faces is the finishing, personifying touch on these bittersweet ads.

Post by: Christie Burns & Danny Prew

Use words to nail a perfect idea

3 Feb

In my professional bios, I always state that I am still in hot pursuit of the perfect idea. I define perfection as simplicity, beauty and absolute executional relevance to the product.

Have I ever come close? Perhaps on two occasions, both print ads. Coincidentally, they shared a theme of being type-only ads where the words tell the visual story.

I was influenced in this regard by the legendary New York graphic designer Bob Gill, who loved type-only design and applied the concept of reductum ad infinitum with relish. He removed everything from his designs except what was essential to telling the story. His United Nations lunch series invitation inspires me still.

U.N. lunch invite by Bob Gill

Bob is 80 now and his website still crackles with energy and simplicity.

I came across these word-as-image examples and recognized in them not only the excellent logo of a fellow T-CAAN agency, Vancouver’s Elevator Strategy, but a number of executions which nail my definition of the perfect idea. Most of them would make memorable animated logos.

I loved Voyeur the best. Which was your favourite?

Into The Wild

26 Jan

This time last year I was preparing to finish my last year of design school. While most days were spent worrying about project deadlines and final presentations, I also remember being clouded by thoughts regarding what I was to do once I was forced to leave this comfy nest called art school. Where will I work? How will I get there? Where do I start?

A year later, now three weeks into my role as Art Director, I thought I’d look back at what I’ve learned since then and see if I can’t share it with the next crop of students. Having just gone into the wild – here are a few tips that worked for me and a few more I didn’t get the chance to try.


Often times people would say to me “Victoria is so small that all the good design jobs are taken”. The way I see it, the smaller the town the easier it should be to stand out amongst the crowd. So before you decide to pack up and move to that neighbouring metropolis, remember: you have to ability to make a mark in your small town, too. Find out exactly what your dream job is and make it your goal. Stay optimistic and keep focused. The unfortunate reality is that as time passes your competition will slowly drop out of the race. If you manage to outlast you’ll start to move up the ladder.


Don’t sit idle between dropping off resumes. Do something to get your work noticed. Start a design blog and post local content, re-design your school newsletter and offer to maintain it, pitch your designs to companies you admire. Take a chance and don’t be afraid to be shot down. Sure you could get rejected, and at first you probably will – but if you’re lucky you might at least gain a pro’s insight regarding your work. While these ideas might not get you paid, they’re all are great steps towards growing your portfolio with real world experience.


Don’t stress this one. Networking will come naturally, if you’re here reading this blog then you’re already doing it. Because most jobs aren’t advertised, networking can be your best bet to get your foot in the door. Consider a student membership to the Graphic Designers of Canada. Your local chapter has dozens of social events each year. Why not start by volunteering to check coats or take tickets at an event? These events are meant to be fun, so relax. Nobody’s there to interview you, try to have fun and enjoy yourself. Your personality should be on show, not your portfolio.


Get to know any potential employers in your area. Navigate your way through the company, introduce yourself to the staff, find out what the mood around the office is like. Now the fun part – don’t just tell potential employers that you’re creative, show them!  Go a step further by customizing a package based on what you’ve learned. Put aside the typical resume. Try a website, video or DVD portfolio.


Now is the perfect time to start seeking out internships, scholarships and awards. Internships are your best bet for work right now, it’s how mostly all designers start.

Check Applied Arts, Communication Arts and Adobe for student awards. They’re a great way to get regional and even worldwide recognition for your work. Another benefit of the GDC is that they’ll do much of the work for you. A student membership gives you access to up-to-date job/internship postings, scholarships and awards info.

Get yourself a website to showcase your work but keep it simple, and remember when it comes to a portfolio it’s always quality over quantity. Be sure to replace old pieces with new ones as your skills progress. And if your web skills aren’t up to snuff yet, there’s plenty of easy-to-use portfolio sites out there. Try Behance , Carbon Made or Cargo Collective.


You’d be surprised what opportunities that might arise from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. There’s no reason why you wouldn’t want to access all three. Each one is different, so learn which to use for particular content. They’re a great way to engage with people, and give them a reason to follow you. Share unique content specific to you: your opinions, your portfolio pieces, and discussions that you’re taking part in.

Thanks for reading, I hope that helps. I’ve included my icon pack for download if you’d like them for personal use. For now you can get to know us @YourCopeland. We love students.

Creative problem-solving for an over-crowded planet

17 Jan

Problem: shortage of affordable space for hotel and dormitory accommodation in Hong Kong.

crowded buildings in Hong Kong

Solution: space age capsule pods complete with WiFi, TV and a pull-down privacy screen with an image of the earth.

interior of Hong Kong capsule pod

row of Hong Kong capsule pods

I’m not sure how that earth image will help you get a good night’s sleep but it photographs well.

The makers of these steel and plastic, fire resistant pods claim that their model is the progeny of the cross-breeding of existing Japanese pods with astronaut cockpits.  I want to therefore call them cockpods, but I know I shouldn’t.

They will rent for about $30 a night, a fraction of what you would pay for that grotty room in Tsim Sha Tsui, where the walls have been decorated with the guts of mosquitoes and the spittle of generations of slobs.

Aside from the space-terror feel of this creative solve (I’ve seen Alien too many times), they will probably prove popular with students and tourists, and could very well solve another critical social issue in Hong Kong – the housing of the poor.

The pods are a vast upgrade on the dehumanizing steel cages, which slumlords have rented out to the disadvantaged for half a century.

Poor living in cages on Hong Kong

(Cage apartment photo courtesy of Global Sociology. Pod photos courtesy of Galaxy Stars.)

Out with the old, in with the new blog

4 Jan

After 3 years of forcing you to stare at the same design for the Copeland blog, we’re happy to present a new face to our readers.

While this was being redesigned, we also attacked our Twitter and Facebook pages. Our Zombie Intern Contest winner Danny Prew is the man behind the art director’s mask on these.

Is it a good idea to change your look?

Albert Einstein, an intellect of some standing, didn’t put much stock in it. He believed in only wearing white shirts and dark trousers – and he had a closet filled with identical garments.

But this is advertising, not quantum physics.

Hope you like it.

If you think calling around for a coffin is weird, try asking for a body bag.

19 Dec


I have just completed the packaging design for my first recording since 2005. I figured after six years of silence a shot of me alive in a coffin would be a cool image for the cover. A sort of back from the dead thing.

You’d think finding a coffin for a photoshoot in the city of the ‘nearly dead’ would be an easy thing. I imagined every household in Oak Bay to have to have several on stand by for the occasion one of the residents expired. I figured I could make a few calls to the local funeral homes and get permission to use a floor model. Not the case. Turns out it is a sensitive topic. I did however find a home that would rent one to me. Apparently they had in the past for movie shoots. Turns out they have much higher budgets than I; $2,500 more. The funeral director was extremely helpful as well as serious about the proposition.

There are a few costs that I had not considered. The liner cannot be re-used. I said I would take my shoes off, he didn’t laugh. It’s a law. That makes sense since the temporary occupant may be a bit leaky. And there is the cost of transporting the coffin off site to do the shoot. They can’t have it done in their building. Fair enough, and for obvious reasons. Plus he would have to take in account that he is loosing potential revenue while the coffin is off site and unavailable to use for real corpses. He said he could probably swing it for me for just under $1,000. Since this is coming out of my pocket I had to decline.

I had seen a coffin for sale on in October for $800 and that now seemed a fair price. I did some searching through my emails because I had to ask the seller questions back then because it’s not an item you find for sale every day. It had already sold. Damn. I figured I was now at a loss and I would have to re-concept. Then I got a new idea. What about a body bag? Way cheaper, and creepier. But where do you find one of those?

It’s really awkward. And I just didn’t know where to start. I called St. john’s Ambulance and had to leave a message. They didn’t return my call. I called the Coroner’s Office and they could even suggest who to call. A few places simply hung up.

It looked like I was stumped again. Then I thought, why not try my funeral director friend. He was helpful and didn’t act even the slightest bit phased. He said ‘Yes we do,’ and ‘yes we can.’ The cost? $28. And could I please bring exact change.

When I showed up to pick up the body bag he not only explained in detail how to use it but showed me everything else I could rent if I needed it: the hearses and the $1,000 coffin (which was sweet!). He seemed to want to give me a tour of the place. Maybe he just appreciated the company of someone alive.

Anyways, below is the finished image. Was it worth it?