In the latest issue of Wayward Arts, Hambly & Woolley uses the story of 'Johnny Doughnut' to explore the history of Canada.
For the Canada 150 series of Wayward Arts Magazine, Flash Reproductions invited six Canadian design studios to randomly select a letter from the word 'Canada' and build a themed issue of the magazine around that letter, highlighting Canadian culture and history through design. To come up with a concept for the letter 'D', the H&W team spent time writing, sketching and thinking about possible themes.
"During our collaborative meetings we all explained our different ways of approaching the book, but after ruminating on a few thoughts one that bubbled to the top was the idea of doughnuts," explains Dominic Ayre RGD, Creative Director at H&W. "We knew it might seem innocuous at first, but when we spent time breaking down what a donut is and what a donut represents, we realized we could dig into a very rich history."
The issue explores the sugary circle as a symbol of community, where donut shops act as hubs, bringing people together. "When we looked at it through this lens, the donut became something that we could use to tell a very robust narrative."
The team enlisted editor Michael Erkelenz, a long-time friend of the studio, to collaborate on the project with a few face-to-face meetings and help turn the idea into a story. With Michael's help, the book became the story of Johnny Doughnut, a 1,500 word, informative and humorous look at the history of Canada after Confederation.
For the visual style, the team looked at examples of work that was being done around the time of Expo '67 and Canada's 100th anniversary. "We got excited about the direct and simple visual style, and a piece of our inspiration came from conversations about Andy Warhol's original commercial illustrations," says Dominic. "We also looked at the work being done by Paul Rand and the designers that were working in Canada at the time: Leslie Smart, Claire Stewart, Paul Arthur and Alan Fleming."
While they drew inspiration from previous generations of designers, the team also wanted the project to feel current and achieve a lasting effect. "We wanted to be able to look back and feel happy with what we created twenty years from now."
H&W was also excited to work with Flash Reproductions to execute their vision for the book's printing.
"We were excited at the studio to see how they would react when we suggested only using two colours. It may look simple from the outside, but there were some important decisions to be made. We challenged Flash to make the fluorescent pink feel like it had been screen-printed." Achieving this effect meant mixing a special ink, which was made slightly grainy to give it a chalkier feel.
"The other fun part of this was of course that we were dealing with doughnuts so we wanted the front cover to be kind of drippy like a glaze." For this, Flash added glitter to the gloss varnish on the cover to give it a 'sticky' quality.
Friend of the studio and recent illustration graduate Mariel Rutherford was also excited to contribute to bringing the project to life. "Mariel loved the fact that we were asking her to work almost primarily in just black and white with hints of the pink."
Through typographic experiments, studio illustrations and work from Mariel, Michael's original story has been translated into a dynamic finished product. "The result is entirely unexpected, witty, at times a bit weird, but all the way through very thoughtful. We are proud of this and also humbled to be included with such a strong, diverse range of work from other studios that has been part of this series."
Published May 2018