Our best in-depth features from 2017

Original concept art for the upcoming Moomin TV animated series

This year has been one for the long-reads here on Digital Arts. We’ve been lucky enough to meet some truly inspiring people making significant changes in the creative industries – whether that be improving diversity, designing for social change or creating a typeface for visually impaired people.

We’ve spent hours scouring the minds of some of the best design agencies, illustrators, UX designers, political cartoonists, directors and Disney animators among others who’ve either created exciting new projects this year – does a new Moomin TV series excite anyone? – or shed light on meaty subjects, such as ustwo Auto’s design principles for autonomous cars. We’ve also researched our own in-depth look at augmented reality and London’s art studio crisis.

Amongst the fun project stories we cover here on Digital Arts, we’re still interested in the creative industries and how they’re performing. So grab a cuppa and settle down, because these informative long reads won’t be done in five minutes.

Illustrated movie posters are making a comeback

Rory Kurtz’s official poster design for Baby Driver

We’ve noticed a recent leaning toward illustrated film posters of a beautiful painterly nature.

Are 80s film poster aesthetics making a comeback? Or is there a rise in fresh modern film poster art to revive the dull, minimalist, vector-style posters of the early 2000s?

We spoke to US visual artist Kyle Lambert and illustrator and artist Rory Kurtz on creating modern film poster art, what it offers over photographic posters, and whether we can expect to see more of these beautiful, painterly illustrations.

See the beautiful illustrated film posters here.


Managing director Anoushka Rodda and creative director Pali Palavathanan lead the five-strong branding and digital agency Templo, based in London’s creative agency capital; Shoreditch.

But unlike a lot of creative agencies in Shoreditch, Pali, Anoushka and their team work alongside journalists, human rights lawyers, investigators, charities and organisations such as the United Nations (UN) and Amnesty International to bring about significant social change.

Read about Templo's inspiring work here.

How design agencies are improving diversity

Diversity in the creative industries was a major topic when we talked to a range of leading designers and creative directors from agencies across the UK and US about what this year's biggest issues are.

Many men and women recognised a need to improve gender, ethnic and socio-economic diversity within the creative industries. But instead of simply writing a how-to guide, which a quick Google search would help you out with, in this feature you’ll find out exactly what creative agencies are doing right now to improve diversity within their own staff, what’s working and what isn’t.

This isn’t to create disparagement or competition, but serves an encouragement and inspiration for the wider creative community. The only way to show improvement is to be honest.

Read the full feature here.

Design for people with disabilities

An in-depth guide to UX and design approaches that benefit people with visual impairment - whether for medical reasons, neuro-disability or the natural ageing process.

For any web designer it’s important to understand where web accessibility for people with disabilities is failing, why it’s important to improve standards, and why it’s beneficial to everyone beyond moral motives.

Read the full feature here.

London’s studio crisis

Earlier this year we spoke to artists affected by London’s lack of affordable studio space, following revelations that thousands of artists are expected to lose their workspace within the next two years.

As artists are being pushed of out London due to rapid gentrification, I found out what they’re doing about it, what the government is doing support creative industries, and who you should turn to for help. 

Check it out.

Humanising autonomy

Driverless cars are in development or already on the road thanks to Google, Tesla and Volvo to name a few iconic brands. But emerging autonomous vehicle (AV) designs are capturing everyone's attentionwithout always answering many ethical or social questions.

While it’s an arms race to see who can produce the best foolproof technology, digital production studio ustwo’s Auto branch has released design principles for autonomous vehicles – with people first in mind. ustwo’s Auto team already work for clients such as Jaguar, Landrover and Transport for London. 

Read the full feature here.

New Moomin animated TV series

Beautiful concept art released ahead of the new Moomin animated series for TV garnered a lot of excitement, including from ourselves.  But it wasn't enough - we wanted to find out more about the overall aesthetic of the series, based on Finnish illustrator and writer Tove Jansson’s original novels.

Series director and head writer Steve Box (who worked on Wallace and Gromit), and series producer John Woolley (who used to work for Aardman Animations), tell us about the series' visual development and character design.

See the full feature here.

Designing with augmented reality

There are plenty of opportunities for designers and brands to explore the possibilities of augmented reality (AR) and how it can enhance creative work, provide entertainment or better society.

Tech giants such as Microsoft, Google and Apple – but also everything from children’s books to 3D modelling for gaming – are experimenting with AR. The abundance of free content creation apps are democratising AR, which means anyone (not just developers) can create their own AR experiences.

This feature provides a broad overview on what augmented reality is, what it’s used for and how you can use it to create your own content.

Read the full explainer here.

Drawing tips for cartoon characters

Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh are best known as the creators of the hit 'aimed at kids but also popular with grown-ups' Disney cartoon show Phineas and Ferb – though they've been in the industry 20 years and have worked on shows from The Simpsons and Family Guy to Spongebob SquarePants and Hey Arnold!.

The pair was in London for the UK launch of their new comedic children’s cartoon – Milo Murphy’s Law. We spoke to the Emmy Award-winning animators/producers about creating the main character Milo and the overall aesthetic for a show, and how to bring out a character's personality with a limited number of lines.

Watch our interview here.

 A digital typeface for visually impaired people

Many of us know braille — the tactile writing system for blind and visually impaired people — but are unfamiliar with an earlier story of which has sparked the innovative project of Polish type designer Viktoriya Grabowska.

Viktoriya and others designed a digital typeface aimed to help visually impaired people (primarily children, but also adults) learn the letter shapes used by sighted people.

See the typeface here.

How to get the most from your illustration agent

It’s almost impossible to avoid commercial projects, but these have to be balanced alongside personal growth and creative satisfaction – clients like to see a well-rounded portfolio, and illustrators that flourish are the ones who can adapt yet refine their style.

So how do you forge an efficient and strong relationship between both illustrator and agency, so everybody wins?

Established UK production agency Jelly London and fresh, boutique talent agency Grand Matter tell us what they expect from an illustrator, and how to create the best relationship.

Equally, illustrators from these agencies and more – Alex Tait (Jelly London), Alec Doherty (Grand Matter) and Rod Hunt (Bernstein & Andriulli, B&A) – have insightful tips (and incredibly delicious food analogies) on how to work with an agency.

Read the top tips here.

How to run art workshops for children

Collaborative design and illustration practice Pencil & Help explains how they create engaging art classes for children, following their recent collaboration with two London schools.

With a background in education and an interest in collaborative approaches to their disciplines, the duo of Marks delivered illustration workshops to year five students at the schools for the hoardings project – which stretches between Westfield Stratford and the bridge to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

We spoke to Mark Oliver to find out what it was like to host an illustration workshop with children, what the collaborative process includes and how to keep children engaged.

See the full interview here.

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