Gold bar packages

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One of my largest clients in the past few years has been the Israeli Coins and Medals Corporation (ICMC). I have designed several e-commerce websites for them, and was consequently also hired to design packages for a new line of products – the Dove of Peace gold bar.

The company has had several drafts for the package commissioned from other designers, but was unsatisfied with the results. With a major numismatics fair approaching, time was pressing to find a solution. They wanted a package that was practical and stylish at the same time. It also needed to be strongly associated with Israel, and with Jerusalem.

The package included two elements – a inner envelope and a sleeve, and so I felt that I should create some contrast between the two, as if the envelope is “peeking” from within. Knowing that the package was to be quite small in size (about the size of a cigarette pack), I decided to keep it simple. I wanted it to have one powerful element as a focal point, and nothing more. I believed that sticking to these two principals would provide a stylish result.

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I submitted three different concepts. The first had a jet black background, and an image of the gold bar, slanted and glistening with light shining behind it. It had nothing more on the front other than the company logo and the product name, both in gold foil. I suggested that the inner envelope be made of textured golden paper. This was somewhat reminiscent of quality chocolate packages, and I sort of liked this association.

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The second concept had a gold foil pattern on it, based on the Star of David shape. It had a royal blue background, and the inner envelope was to be made of high quality white stock, producing the ever so Israeli white and blue color combination.

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The third concept was on a lighter note. It featured a stylized illustration of Jerusalem on a white background, inspired by old mosaic depictions of the holy city. This time the blue was on the inside, using deep blue quality recycled stock.

The ICMC managers liked concept A, but thought that the inner golden paper was a little over the top, and that we should tone it down a little. They also liked the Star of David pattern from concept B. And so we decided to make the inner envelope a metallic matte silver, with the pattern overlayed in a glossy UV varnish. This gave the envelope a subtle, light responsive texture.

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The result was stunning. A package which doesn’t yell “luxury!”, but rather whispers it softly. In addition, I also created a few limited edition sleeves, featuring colorful collages.

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I also designed a certificate of authenticity, to be inclosed together with each bar of fine gold. It featured a water mark of the ancient walls of Jerusalem.

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In order to complete everything in time for the coin fair, I had to put in a few sleepless nights. This paid off since the product was a success and drew a lot of attention.

Yes to product simulation!

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About three years ago I first got a chance to work with Yesto, an international cosmetics brand which would later become one of my best clients ever. I was contacted by their local representative in order to do some Photoshop retouching for mock-ups of a new product. I completed the job, and took the opportunity to tell him that I believe I can do a whole lot more for his firm.
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Lucky for me, he did put in a good word, and that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I was contacted by their offices in San Francisco, asking if I could possibly retouch some product images and update their labels. You see, international companies often issue several versions of the same product, with different labels for different languages. Producing pack-shots of all these versions individually can become a pretty heavy expense. Having a skilled Photoshop artist at your disposal can cut your costs, and help marketing run much more smoothly.

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As time went by, the assignments I received from Yesto grew more and more complex. If at first I only made minor changes to existing images, I was now asked to radically modify them, or even to simulate entirely new products, for which I had no references at all. This has encouraged me to expand my capabilities, and develop new techniques in order to achieve more accurate and realistic results.

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One of these techniques, which I nicknamed “vector warping”, involves importing live text to the Adobe Illustrator software, warping it there using it’s advanced “envelope distort” features, and then export the result back to Photoshop, for shading and reintegration with a raster background. This technique is vital when attempting to simulate a curved surface with text printed on it.

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Yet another technique I use is good old perspective. I studied perspective drawing way back in high school, and never imagined I would use it in my career as a graphic designer. But when simulating three dimensional boxes and shelves, perspective is just the thing you need. I realize that there are all sorts of fancy software nowadays that can easily calculate the positions of various objects in 3D space, but I don’t need them. I make the calculations the old fashioned way, using picture planes and vanishing points. However, I do use Adobe Illustrator instead of doing it on paper!

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I was absolutely amazed to find out how easy it is to work with a client which is located virtually on the other side of the world. Most jobs are completed overnight.  I get all the instructions I need on the email, and because of the time differentials, I have all day to work, and the job is usually done before my client even wakes up, way over in California.

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I believe this cooperation works well for both sides, and hope it lasts for many more years to come.

A flowing brand

One of the most successful branding projects I have been involved in is of a small Israeli start-up company called Flometrica. This company develops disposable measuring equipment, for medical use.

The first challenge of every branding project is to create a logotype. A good logotype is like the opening notes of a concerto – it sets the tone and atmosphere of the entire brand, and makes the rest of the process a whole lot easier. Specifically in this project I had a hard time finding the right one. I must have presented the client with half a dozen different sketches. All of them were reasonable, but none of them was “it”.

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At that point, while doodling absent-mindedly, I came up with this sketch. It was very simple, almost banal. But it made the “M” look a lot like Flometrica’s product – a drop of fluid passing through a measuring tube. The letters were hand drawn, since I couldn’t find a geometric font with the correct characteristics. The client immediately loved it. We tried a few color variations and finally decided to go with the classic Blue and Cyan duo.

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As I mentioned before, a good logo makes the entire branding process flow, as if on it’s own. The more I looked at it the more I knew I had to take that special M and turn it into a leitmotiv. Here you can see it appearing in white on the company’s business cards. The blue and cyan blend into an abstract background, illustrating the concept of “flow”.

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I later went on to design the company’s website. I tried to keep it as clean and tidy as possible, in order to convey the ideas of accuracy and efficiency. the only element which disturbs the straight lines is my beloved leitmotiv (here in the carousel’s buttons. The pictures of people smiling balance the cold color scheme, and add a bit of warmth and humanity.

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I later went on and created a concept for the packaging of the product’s software. Again, using the drop as a dominant motive which is easily recognizable, and limiting myself to the brand’s colors. The result is simple and effective.

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Some old paintings

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I never studied painting. Like so many things I do, I learned it through trial and error. I realize nowadays that formal instruction has it’s merits, but when I first picked it up as a teenager, painting was a form of escapism, and you really can’t escape while there’s a teacher peaking behind your shoulder.

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Though surrealistic at times, my paintings were always figurative. I guess I wasn’t ready back then to let go of the familiar forms of art I have seen at the museum – a portrait, a landscape, a still nature, nothing more. But even those simple compositions gave me a good enough excuse to introduce wild color combinations.

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During my first three years in the military, I was forced to give it up. Being creative demands a huge amount of energy, and getting home on weekends I was literally too tired to lift a brush. But then I got promoted to a different assignment, and I picked it up again. I was rusty at first, but nevertheless it felt amazing. Painting again after such a long break felt like a drink of water after a long walk in the desert.

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The works themselves came out quite melancholy. Some even frightening. This was not a particularly happy time in my life, to say the least. However, the colorful essence of the art has always remained intact. Rich and luscious, mysterious and enticing, powerful color has always been a source of inspiration for me.

Moon city

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During the years I have lived in Tel-Aviv I used to go out early on Saturday mornings, while the city was still asleep after  the wild Friday night parties. Equipped with my digital camera, the first one I ever owned, I used to photograph various buildings and architectural details that I found interesting. Later on, while sifting through the result, I used to be quite disappointed. The photos never came out as quite as vivid and interesting as I had wanted.

Then it dawned on me that I could use Photoshop in order to pick out the most interesting bits, leaving out all the rest. The result was an interesting mix of styles and eras in the city’s architectural history. Old Bauhaus buildings collided with  modern skyscrapers, creating a wild and imaginary city scape. Adding a misty background and a hazy moon completed the composition.

Today this style of photo collage became rather common among young and adventurous design students, but back then in the year 2000 it was quite avant guard. You are invited to tour this blog further, a few more examples of this style are available somewhere.

The phoenix egg

The pheonix egg

This Digital work of art is one of my favorites. I have created it specifically for a group exhibition that took place on October 2011, at “Hatachana” compound in Tel-Aviv. This art exhibition was a fundraiser for the LGBT association of Israel. Some 70 (!) artists took part of this event, including some of the most well known artists in the country.

The theme of the exhibition was ” transformation”, and so I came up with the concept of the Phoenix, which according to the legend is reborn from the ashes of his own funeral pyre. Like the Phoenix, we all have the ability to come back to life, to reinvent ourselves, through our ideas and creations, which have the potential to outlive us, and become immortal.

This piece was created as a collage of various textures which I have scanned and processed using Photoshop. Only one copy was ever printed, and I’m happy to tell you that it was sold for a handsome sum.