Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Post 2 - Bob Staake, Illustrator. - Robyn Rand

The work of Bob Staake is simple, elegant, modern, crisp, precise and intense.

He creates complex combinations out of combining basic shapes such as rectangles and ellipses which he then refines into final illustrations. His work shows an intense use of graphic design principles and computer enhanced vector images, using shapes, blends, positive and negative space, highlights and shading.
The illustrations look simple enough to hold the attention of toddlers, and complicated enough to please the most sophisticated of adult viewers. His work is everywhere and has been for years, with images appearing in books, magazines, animations, greeting cards, advertising, newspapers, cereal boxes to CD-Rom games. One of his books, "The Red Lemon" - - has been named one of the 10 best illustrated books of 2006. Overall he has been author and illustrator of more then 42 books.

Some of the influences in his style are: A.M. Cassandre, Alex Steinweiss, J.P. Miller, Paul Rand, Herbert Leupin and Mary Blair. Of course there are more which are listed on his web site but these are the ones of which I could recognize the direct influence. He uses a canny combination of Russian Constructivism and Pop art, both of which I am a fan, and think they contain a strong element of design and placement as well as a lot of energy.

I chose to look, in particular, at a cover that he worked on for 'The New Yorker' titled 'Reflection' commemorating Barack Obama's election. This cover was chosen by Time as number 1 in their list of top 10 magazine covers of 2008. This is a little different to his usual style, beautifully rendered and stunning in his use of colour and placement like the others, but appears to be more realistic and representational. The black of the night representing the time when people are sleeping safe and sound in their homes, the eternal hope represented by the stars and the serenity and peace represented by the still and reflective water. It seems to say "everything's ok now".

Please use the link to check out his website, there is a lot of amazing pics, helpful links and he is more then happy to have a chat with any design student by email or on twitter.

As one of my examples of similar work I have chosen A.M. Cassandre (the one that designed the Peignot and the Cassandre typeface, among others) as someone else who's work is similar, it is very similar but not so crisp and intense as Staakes. Cassandre's work is incredibly striking in it's clarity and individualism, he started designing in the 20's and stopped in the 60's, he worked mostly with posters.

The second person I chose is Herve Morvan (not Harvey Norman) seems to have been working in design and illustration in the early 1930's to the 1970's. His work is absolutely bright, colourful, positive, clear, sophisticated and timeless. It's the kind of work I just can't stop looking at.


  1. Nice Robyn Rand a lot of interesting images included a real eye opener.

  2. Beautifully simple yet so rich and luscious. Difficult balance to achieve and your chosen illustrators do it brilliantly. Cassandre obviously a great source of inspiration for Bob S.
    Interesting post.

  3. Very Art Deco in some images.Nice!