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Casemaking

Posted on July 30, 2014 by AUTHOR (edit in theme settings)
At Giant Sparrows, we really do love our job printing phone cases. It's amazing to see a case that you designed with your own personal photographs spring into life in just a few minutes: and they look so incredible! The whole process can seem a bit like magic; but today we're going to draw back the curtain of mystery, and show you our casemaking process.
  

Every morning, we check for new orders that have come in via our website, and download your photos if you've selected one of our personalised phone case designs.The image files are altered and prepared in Photoshop, and then printed out on a plasticized film, in sheets of nine. We use special Stochiometric inks that transfer onto plastic at high temperatures through a process called sublimation

 

 

Once the images are printed out, it's time to warm up the oven! Our huge vacuum oven heats our trays of phone case moulds to 130°C. Once they're heated, we clip blank white cases onto the moulds, and then lay the sheets of plastic face down over the top. The lid of the tray clips over the top, holding the sheet in place. 

 

 

Next is the fun part! Using heat gloves, you shove the whole tray into the Vacuum Oven, and clamp it into place. The Vacuum Oven does it's job and makes a huge amount of noise! The vacuum pulls the plastic film tightly around the phone cases, at the same time heating it so that the inks sublime (instantly evaporate) and bond with the surface of the phone case.

 

After just a few minutes, the process finishes, and the lid of the machine pops up. Whip it out of the oven quickly, and peel back the plastic film, and there you have it: nine perfect, beautifully colourful phone cases!

Pop the cases off their moulds (careful; they're still hot!) and they're ready to clip onto your smartphone.  

 

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Interview with Josh Hurley

Posted on July 15, 2014 by AUTHOR (edit in theme settings)

Throughout the year, we'll be running a series of interviews with artists whose work we find inspirational. We caught up with Josh Hurley, and chatted with him about printmaking, running a small design studio, and what it's like to live on a narrow boat!

-Tell us a bit about yourself, and what you do?

 Hello! I'm Josh Hurley, a screenprinter and illustrator.  I studied illustration at Falmouth and now run a small design and print studio called The Key Print House. Outside of this I eat too many desserts, listen to miserable music and live on a narrow boat. 

'Totem' Screen Print

 

 -What’s your background in Illustration? When did you know you wanted to be an Illustrator/Designer?

 I recently graduated from Falmouth University in Illustration. Falmouth was a really good place to study. The course was great at letting you explore your own path and develop your own style in which ever way you wanted which I think really suited me. Falmouth was also full of great people that were always up for beach bbqs and drinking good ale. I've always been creative, but it wasn't until I was starting my foundation course that I realised I wanted to focus in on illustration. At the time my friend Jen Springall was studying illustration and seeing the briefs and projects that she was being set, and the way illustration differs from fine art really appealed to me.  

Spot Illustration for Skinny Magazine, November 2013

 

 -Most of your work is screenprinted. What’s your process for taking an idea and turning it into a finished print?

It is, I gravitated towards screen printing in the final year of uni after playing around with other printmaking processes. having a hand printed product, to me, will always beat digital printing. I understand not everything can be hand printed, but there is just something about it that I find really intriguing.

My ideas always start off as a small sketch or doodle. If I think it has any potential then I sketch it again and again with different compositions and in different sizes. After the idea has evolved into something solid I tend to scan it in and build it up in Photoshop. I usually only ever work in two or three colours because it helps later down the line when it comes to printing.  I recently finished a collaboration with my girlfriend Livi Gosling, under The Key Print House. we created a double tea towel product. For this I used the drawings and avoided photoshop which was really fun. (They'll be on sale soon!) Once the designing is done it will almost always go through the screen printing process. At the moment I'm really enjoying overlaying two colours to make a third colour, I cant get enough of it.

-Forests and Nature are themes that feature heavily in your personal work. Is a connection to nature important to you in your work, and life in general?  

 I'm not sure if its important for me to feature nature in my work. I just like drawing trees. However, I think its quite important in life in general. Living on a narrow boat is good because you feel like you are always outside, you cant avoid the wildlife or nature if you tried. It's very relaxing.

Screenprinted Fox Pillow, a collaboration with Half Pint Home.

 

 -Last year you set up The Key Print house, a small screenprinters with Oliver Moinet. Can you tell us a bit more about that? What’s it been like to run a studio so soon after graduating? 

The Key Print House is a design and print studio that I run with Olly Moinet (a fellow Falmouth graduate) that specialises in handprinted goods. We started in October focusing on the Christmas market. The response was really good so we decided to push it further by focusing on commission based work. Since then we've worked with a range of clients designing and printing all sorts of things like tea towels, t-shirts and business cards. It's all been good fun, but also a real learning curve. I'm not a natural businessman so having to worry about finances, bringing in more business and keeping to schedules was tough to start with, but the best way to learn is to just jump in and get on with it. It really helps having a second person like Olly. It gives you confidence to go out and tell people why they should work with you, but it also gives you someone to lean on when things get too overwhelming. 

We're currently working on a couple of commissions as well as trying to get out some new products of our own, so keep your eyes peeled!
 
Thanks so much, Josh! 
You can find Josh's work at his portfolio website, cargocollective.com/joshhurleyillustration
Or follow his work on: 
His Tumblr
His online Shop
And his design studio, The Key Print House.

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Project Ara: Could this be the Future of Personalised Phones?

Posted on July 11, 2014 by AUTHOR (edit in theme settings)

 

Could the future of phones be modular? With the standard smartphone lasting less than two years before being replaced, upgraded or broken, there's a huge amount of technology waste produced every year. A modular smartphone would solve many of these issues, by allowing individual broken or outdated elements to be swapped out quickly and easily.

When the project was first floated in the Autumn of 2013, many thought that this would be a long-term concept with no immediate applications for years to come. But with the financial backing of Google, and the technical expertise of Motorolla, the project has come together faster than anyone could have expected, with a release date slated for late 2015. Project Ara chief Paul Eremenko showed off an early prototype at Google I/O two weeks ago, and though it doesn't quite work as expected, it's still an impressive piece of engineering.

 

One of Project Ara's major selling points is that it creates a huge opportunity to let users customise their own phone.Don't care about cameras? Then don't have one, add a bigger battery pack instead! Or if you're mad for photography, add a top-of-the-line 5 megapixel camera. Or downsize to a smaller screen and put the camera on the front, so you can get the best possible angles with your selfies! 

There's also a lot of scope to customise the way your phone looks, with custom-printed modules covers. Advanced 3D-printing techniques will allow users to create their own personalised textures for each module, or embed an image into the plastic substrate of the module itself. There's an exciting range of covers released so far, including some very realistic-looking wood effect modules.  

The project will be leaning on third party developers to create and invent different modules for the Ara phone, with Google producing only the "Endo", or hardware frame. With lofty ambitions, this is a project that could be difficult to get off the ground, but one that has a huge scope for changing the tech industry as a whole. 

So, will larger, more established phones like the iPhone follow suit, and join the modular revolution? With third-party development such a large, unknown factor, it seems doubtful that they will. Companies like Apple would most likely rather keep total control over all elements of the phone rather than outsourcing different elements piecemeal. There are still a lot of unanswered questions as to whether it will even be profitable for small companies to work with Ara, and two competing endo systems with different requirements would only stretch the market further. We've also yet to see just how modularity is going to affect system performance; it may be that Ara phone won't come close to matching the operating performance of a traditional smartphone. 

Despite all these hurdles, Ara remains one of the most interesting tech projects in the last few years. Only time will tell if the logistical issues can be worked out, and we can't wait to see it when it becomes a reality! 

 You can find out more about Project Ara at the official website, http://www.projectara.com/. 

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Interview with Mia Christopher

Posted on July 04, 2014 by AUTHOR (edit in theme settings)

 

Photo Credit: Aubrie Pick

Throughout the year, we'll be running a series of interviews with artists whose work we find inspirational. Mia Christopher is a multimedia abstract painter who's been with Giant Sparrows since we started out. We caught up with her and chatted with her about her artwork, the materials she uses, and making artwork in unlikely places, like the waiting room at the DMV . 

1.     Could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what you do?

I am a multi-disciplinary artist currently living and working in San Francisco, California. I graduated with a BFA in Painting from California College of the Arts in 2012 and have been exhibiting works locally and internationally since 2008. My work varies in scale and medium, from tiny paintings with nail polish on marble bits, to latex sculpture, to large scale mixed media paintings on canvas, with themes often rooted in inquisition, obsession, mark making and indulgence. One of Mia's sketchbook pages from her Flickr.

One of Mia's sketchbook pages from her Flickr.

 

2.    Who are your biggest influences?

I am inspired by so many things and people. But a short list off the top of my head would be: Jenny Holzer, Tantric painting, Rineke Dijkstra, and Kiki Smith.

"Stickers" phone case, by Mia Christopher

 

3.     You use a lot of multimedia elements in your work; but what three materials could you not live without?

Iridescent enamel, Stonehenge fawn paper, and gel pens.

4. What does being an artist mean to you? Is the idea of creative freedom important in your artwork?

When I am making my own work I am not answering to anyone or working to produce anything other that what interests me. There is no second guessing about my choices and an understanding within myself that this practice is a lifelong experience. Doing design or illustration work is different because there is another party involved that needs to approve what you are doing. This can be challenging and lead to interesting discoveries. It can also be frustrating and difficult. I think it's fruitful to experience both ways of art making.

In 2012, Anthropologie turned some of Mia's Test sheets into Textiles for a line of dresses.

 

5.     What does it feel like to see one of your paintings applied to a finished product, like your dress collection for Anthropologie, or one of our Phone Cases?

When some of my paintings were appropriated into textile patterns for a dress line with Anthropologie in 2012, it was really exciting to see the marks blown up and moving on soft cotton around bodies. I have done some hand painted textile work on chiffon and enjoy painting on a variety of materials. Digitally printing analog works onto commodities like textiles to be made into clothing or hard shell cell phone cases is interesting to me because it creates a new context and new life for that artwork. I can make something at my desk or in my studio or on a train or in my sketchbook in the DMV waiting area, and potentially turn that drawing into something else entirely, that will be used by someone I don't know and become a part of their every day routine. There is a mystery in that that is exciting to me.

6.     Your "Scribbles" design is one of the most popular designs that we sell, and has been with us since we launched. Why do you think it's such a popular design, and would you pick it as your favourite?

Well, it's a very convenient phone case to have because if it ever gets dirty no one will be the wiser! I've definitely spilled paint and nail polish on mine before and it blends right it, which is neat. I think that people like the rhythmic chaos in that particular painting. The colors are appealing, maybe a bit cheerful. There is a lot to look at on it, and I think people like being able to go back and see new things within the painting, or dreamily make up stories. I think my favorite of the three on Giant Sparrows is the one titled "Test Sheet," because it has more painterly moments and I like the textures that show up, though "Scribbles" has more, and tinier, marks.
Thanks, Mia!
 
If you've enjoyed reading about Mia's artwork, you can find more of her work at:
Her Portfolio website, http://www.miachristopher.com/.
Her Flickr
All of Mia's Phone Case designs are available here, on our website. 
 

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Meet Clare Galloway

Posted on July 01, 2014 by AUTHOR (edit in theme settings)

 

Meet Clare Galloway

Scottish artist Clare Galloway is a Painter whose colourful, distinctive work encompasses both surreal landscapes and her own spirituality. She views her artwork as "channeling the divine by simply being" and loves "that everyone will read their own story in a painting... this gives me my purpose". Clare has been with Giant Sparrows since our company began, and throughout that time we've produced a wide variety of phone cases from her paintings. Here she is in her own words, talking about her work and the things that inspire her to create

 

 

Clare Galloway, 'Winter in the Glen', for iPhone 4

 

 I grew up in a clachan on an island in Scotland: living close to the elements, and a wild natural landscape. This formed a deep relationship with nature in me, and an inherent understanding of deep-ecology, which formed the base of my ongoing studies as an adult.

  I loved school and learning at the beginning, but recognised early on that I would never follow the crowd. This later developed into a realisation that, if I wanted to be thinking my own thoughts, the only logical choice was... be an artist. 

Clare Galloway, 'Mountain Path' for iPhone 5

 

Clare Galloway 'Mountain Path' for iPhone 5/5S

 

I attended the two most prestigious art schools in Scotland, then studied extensively in multifarious countries, communities, and fascinating work situations. My art practise always ran alongside other work, like community transformation, sustainable environmental design and multifarious volunteer and leadership positions.

 

Clare Galloway, 'Monte Taburno II' for iPhone 4

 

In 2011 I arrived in the abandoned medieval quarter of a southern Italian hill town: seeing great potential in the place, and feeling the instinct to finally put down some roots, I bought a house for under £10K and went about restoring it with own bare hands and few resources. The Arthouse has grown into a vibrant hub of creative outpourings, and my story has drawn international attention. The town's renaissance is currently well underway, as I go about balancing a lifestyle which allows the best of both Italy and Scotland -and which permits me to eventually write a book or two. 



Clare Galloway, 'The Holy Fell II', Oil on Board

 

Thanks, Clare! You can find all of Clare Galloway's phone cases for iPhone or Samsung designs right here on our website. 

You can follow Clare and find more about her work at: 

Her website http://claregalloway.com

Her Portfolio http://claregalloway.com/art/

Her Online Shop  http://claregalloway.com/shops/

Twitter: @claregalloway

Facebook

I love that everyone will read their own story in a painting.

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