In “The Alphabet of Nations,” They Might Be Giants—the Brooklyn-based duo of John Flansburgh and John Linnell—help kids learn geography and the alphabet in a catchy singalong that turns the ABC’s into a list of names of countries around the world, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The band has recorded a special version of the song for the 10th anniversary deluxe reissue of their beloved first children’s album, “No!” (2002). To celebrate the rerelease, Pentagram’s Emily Oberman and team have collaborated with TMBG to create a new video for “The Alphabet of Nations” that features images crowdsourced from fans around the globe.
For the band and the designers, the project represented the opportunity to do something that was not only for fun, but also for good. The video was made in collaboration with and to benefit the Global Fund for Children, the international children’s charity organization. GFC invests in innovative grassroots groups around the world that serve children in need. To help raise money for the Global Fund, TMBG and Oberman have also created limited edition posters and t-shirts based on the video graphics. All profits go to support the Global Fund for Children. Get yours here!
NBC’s legendary sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” launched its 38th season this month with a new title sequence designed by Pentagram’s Emily Oberman and team. Inspired by the lights and architecture of New York City at night, the dynamic, highly graphic sequence deconstructs the cast, title typography and the city itself through a shimmering, slightly trippy prism of dots and angles. The new sequence accompanies major cast changes for the show, and the titles introduce the SNL players with beautiful portraits by longtime SNL photographer Mary Ellen Matthews, animated with jump cuts.
Oberman and her team worked closely with SNL producers James Signorelli and Steve Higgins on the project. Oberman has worked with SNL since 1994, when she and Bonnie Siegler, her partner at Number Seventeen, were hired to design parody commercials for the show, including the classic “Crystal Gravy.” They later designed the logos and several title sequences for the show over the years, most recently in 2009. At Number Seventeen Oberman also designed identities for other shows produced by SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels and his company Broadway Video, including “30 Rock” and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”.
World cinema has a new champion in Cohen Media Group, a new theatrical production and distribution company specializing in independent and foreign language films. CMG has produced and distributed an ambitious slate of films in the past few years, including the Academy Award nominees “Frozen River” and “Outside the Law”; Luc Besson’s acclaimed biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi, “The Lady”; and current releases “Farewell, My Queen” and “The Awakening,” the latter of which opened this past weekend. Pentagram’s Paula Scher has designed a bold, contemporary brand identity for the company and a distinctive system of packaging graphics for its DVDs.
Scher worked closely with CMG founder Charles S. Cohen on the development of the identity. In addition to film, Cohen is passionate about design: As part of Cohen Brothers Realty, he owns landmark design properties including the Decoration & Design Building in New York and the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles.
In 1970, Jeffrey MacDonald, a Green Beret doctor stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was accused of the brutal killing of his pregnant wife and two young daughters, a crime he attributed to intruders. He was convicted, but has always maintained his innocence. In A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald, the Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris presents 20 years of his own investigation into one of America’s most infamous murder cases. Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team have designed the book, out September 4, as well as a promotional online trailer and accompanying website.
Pentagram designed Morris’s previous book, Believing Is Seeing (2011), which examined the mysteries behind several famous photographs. For A Wilderness of Error, Bierut and designer Yve Ludwig worked closely with Morris to develop a design that eschews the typically lurid look of “true crime,” in favor of simple line drawings in stark black and white to convey the in-depth analysis of Morris’s arguments as well as the horror and notoriety of the case.
We need you for the Alphabet of Nations! We’re crowd-sourcing images from around the world to be featured in the video. Post your images to Instagram with the hashtag #TMBGnation. Deadline is July 10.
We are requesting THREE PHOTOS be posted to Instagram from people from, or hailing from, these specific countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Belgium, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Chad, China, Denmark, Dominica, Egypt, Ecuador, Fiji, France, the Gambia, Guatemala, Hungary, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Libya, Mongolia, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Suriname, Turkey, Uruguay, Vietnam, West Xylophone, Yemen, Zimbabwe.
What we need:
A PORTRAIT OF YOUR FACE
It’s all about your face (or your child’s or friend’s face) with a BIG SMILE. Native garb always welcome!
A PHOTO OF YOU AND YOUR FLAG
A small (or big) FLAG of your nation squarely in front of you (or your child or friend)!
A PHOTO EXPRESSING YOUR CULTURE
A pic of traditional clothing, craft or crop, maybe with someone pointing to your country on a map. It should celebrate your culture!
BONUS CHALLENGE: AN ACTION PHOTO!
An action photo! A photo of you (or your child or friend) jumping, in a karate pose, piggyback riding, making a peace symbol, or somehow celebrating YOURSELF!
IF YOU ARE FROM A COUNTRY NOT ON THE LIST but still want to participate please post a photo with the NAME of your country clearly in it! And make a note in the comment on Instagram so we get it right!
The Penguin Press asked Pentagram to create a trailer to promote a landmark: the publication of the entire Thomas Pynchon backlist—from V. (1963) to Inherent Vice (2009)—on e-book for the first time. The video begins with a typographic treatment one of the most legendary opening lines in 20th century American literature, “A screaming comes across the sky,” from what is arguably Pynchon’s masterpiece, his 1973 National Book Award-winning Gravity’s Rainbow. Then follows the opening lines of his other seven books, ending with elegantly animated glimpses of the covers.
Partner Michael Bierut, a longtime Pynchon fan, worked with animator and musician Teddy Blanks of CHIPS to create a 64-second tribute to a body of work that has enthralled readers for years, and which will now reach millions more in the digital realm. The author himself, however, is unlikely to be among that number. According to the publisher, “He likes to read in print.”
Project team: Michael Bierut, partner-in-charge and design director; Teddy Blanks, Chips NY, motion designer and musician
The landmark Apollo Theater in Harlem is an American musical and cultural icon, the place “where stars are born and legends are made” that helped launch the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, and Smokey Robinson, among countless others. On Monday, June 4, the Apollo will host one of the biggest superstars in music today: the resurgent Lionel Richie, currently back at the top of the charts. Richie will be honored alongside the late Etta James at the Apollo Spring Gala, which will induct the two artists into the Apollo Theater Legends Hall of Fame.
Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and Joe Marianek have been working with the Apollo on its brand identity and messaging and created the campaign for the Spring Gala. Richie inspired the Gala graphics, which weave lines from his signature hits “Say You, Say Me” and “All Night Long” into the language for the event: “Say You, Say Me, Say Apollo, Say Lionel, All Night Long.”
Pentagram has created a series of short animated films for AkzoNobel that highlight various products and initiatives of the company.
As part of the online version of AkzoNobel’s Annual Report 2011, Pentagram have created four short animated films to illustrate a cross-section of AkzoNobel’s initiatives and innovations with paints, chemicals and specialty coatings across the year.
Produced by Naresh Ramchandani and Angus Hyland and directed by Simone Nunziato, each film starts by posing an important question then uses narration and playful animation to show how AkzoNobel has begun to answer it.
One film asks ‘How do we satisfy our love for salt and our need for health?’ The film goes on to explain the health problems intrinsic with our salt-loving culture, and then introduces a genuine salt replacement with less than 50% of the sodium content of salt.