Dieline’s Friday Wrap-Up: AI Art Fair Winners, Bioplastic Vinyl, and Doggy Parton
by Bill McCool on 09/02/2022 | 7 Minute Read
I can no longer keep up with all these buzzwords I’m seeing on LinkedIn and elsewhere. Every week, there’s some new fandangled catchphrase trying to capture HOW WE’RE FEELING AT OUR JOBS to drum up content wherever our eyeballs and fingertips wander. I prefer the old-fashioned “burnout.” It’s a great blanket statement for the hardships many folks are still experiencing as they try to muddle through post-COVID; some might even call it collective trauma or PTSD.
So take a deep breath, listen to the corn song, and enjoy the waning days of summer. Maybe start another farm on Stardew Valley (shout-out to my chickens Colonel Sanders and Botox) while you wait for Haunted Chocolatier to drop. Or listen to the new Freddie Gibbs. Your brain will thank you.
Anywho, on to the links.
It’s the End of the Vinyl As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)
Chances are, we’ll never get to hear a new R.E.M. song, but fans could breathe a little easier this past week when Michael Stipe announced he would finally release a physical copy of his 2018 Brian Eno-produced tune “Future if Future.”
But what’s especially notable about this particular tune is that it will get released on a record made from fossil fuel-free bioplastic, supposedly the first of its kind to be commercially sold. Records are made using PVC, and you don’t need me to remind you that it's not the most eco-conscious of materials. Developed by Evolution Music, the bioplastic LP gets produced using sugars and starches and can be manufactured on existing equipment at record plants.
The record goes on sale today at Bandcamp, and you and I have likely already missed out as there are only 500 copies. Oh well.
In case you missed it, we just held our annual Student Week here at Dieline. You'll find plenty of pieces about our favorite design schools for packaging, tips for interns, and even a few portfolio pointers from a pro.
While we saw plenty of exceptional student projects, I'll give a shout-out to Maja Gawronska for this beautiful conceptual flower-infused sparkling water. I have no idea what a product of this kind tastes like, but I know I love how it looks, and sometimes, that’s half the battle.
I Want To Speak To The Manager Now Department
Peep the Liquid Death Instagram account, and you’ll find that a shopper in Georgia attached a 2-page diatribe against the sustainable brand to a case of their water at a Kroger, writing, “We just had a young man die in our community of a drug overdose. One of the commercials for Liquid Death is children drinking it. Children drinking from a can of LIQUID DEATH. There is something wrong with a company who markets death to our children—and companies who sell their products are accountable, too. At some point EVERYONE has to take responsibility for what they are doing.” The letter further takes aim at the silly copy that adorns their cans, taking particular umbrage with “murdering their thirsts” and “recycling their souls.”
Rest assured, Jeannie talked to the Kroger manager, but I wouldn’t put it past Liquid Death to have concocted this mild piece of Satanic Panic, as it’s totally on brand for them. Also, shout out to Liquid Death for this Jimmy Buffet-inspired “Murderitaville” t-shirt. I'm buying next paycheck.
I’m So Bored of Bored Apes
I haven’t watched an MTV VMAs since the late 90s, but Snoop Dogg and Eminem appeared at the YOUTH-oriented video music awards show—for a cable network that doesn’t play music videos—in the form of their Bored Ape avatars. After smoking a ginormous blunt, the duo fall into a not-so-visually intriguing metaverse that feels mostly limp and awkward, kinda like the actual Bored Ape Music Fest last June. I could spend a few hundred words breaking down the visual slop, but what’s the point? I’m not the intended audience, i.e., I’m an old. But if you’re going to introduce a “metaverse award” at your decreasingly relevant awards show, maybe have something that doesn’t look so rushed and clunky?
That will sound like a shot at the animators and designers that worked on the project. It's not. But it feels like there were a lot of late nights and not a lot of time to make this a reality.
Also, as Kotaku’s Ari Notis pointed out, it’s not entirely clear this is for the kids. Aside from Silicon Valley techbois, the celebrity NFT establishment is well past its cultural prime, and while I love Snoop Dogg as a modern-day brand svengali and spokesperson, I’m not sure why I have rich folks cramming their apes into my eyeballs with the promise of this being some cultural milestone that's not about selling t-shirts or burgers.
For what it’s worth, I’m not anti-NFT, But I have a difficult time comprehending that this is something people (the pyramid scheme have’s and the Ethereum-less have not’s) are genuinely passionate about, and I still can’t fathom how the metaverse will look like when it’s truly ready because it definitely isn’t. At all.
Enduring national treasure Dolly Parton has teamed up with bonafide really-real business SportPet designs to launch a line of apparel and accessories for your pooch aptly called Doggy Parton. So if you ever wanted to know what your dog looked like in a Dolly wig, now’s your chance.
Portions of sales from Doggy Parton will go to Willa B. Farms, a charity that seeks to rehouse displaced animals.
If you'd like to enter several prompts into an AI art generator, you have a pretty decent chance of winning a Colorado state art fair. According to Vice, Jason Allen, the owner of a tabletop gaming company who goes by the handle Sincarnate, took first place in the digital art category with his piece “Théâtre D'opéra Spatial,” which is also a fancy way of saying “Space Opera Theater.”
Using a program called Midjourney to create the artwork, Allen took to Discord to celebrate his victory, noting that he “set out to make a statement.” This enraged other artists, and they took to Twitter to express their dismay, as one does, as they are understandably worried about how AI could potentially take away creative jobs in the future.
To be fair, the AI-generated work fits nicely with any other sci-fi-leaning illustration you’d expect to find on an Asimov cover by an actual IRL artist. However, if I’m a state art fair in Colorado, I’m adding a creative writing category.
“Kinder to the Planet,” aka, “Only 50% Virgin Plastic”
Unilever laundry brand Persil has made a great deal of noise about how their products are “kinder to the planet.” However, the detergent mavens found themselves hung out to dry with accusations of greenwashing courtesy of the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), as they pulled a commercial touting that their packaging was more environmentally-friendly because it was made from recycled plastic. Persil received criticism from viewers saying that they were unsure how the new bottle was any more sustainable than the previous iteration. Unilever countered the claim noting it was made from 50% recycled plastic, but folks also took issue with the ad’s purported negative messaging around how planting trees and promoting hashtags aren't enough and that folks need to “roll up [their] sleeves and get dirty,” around one of the brand’s latest campaigns.
Still, it was the whole “kinder to our planet” chestnut that stuck in the ASA’s craw because, understandably, 50% post-recycled content doesn’t cut it when it comes to tooting your green horn.
“Although we acknowledged Persil were undertaking actions to reduce the environmental impact of their products, we had not seen evidence or analysis to demonstrate the overall environmental impact of the featured liquid detergents over their full-life cycles, compared with Persil’s own previous products or other products, in support of the claim ‘kinder to our planet,’” wrote the ASA.
Better luck next time, Unilever.
Watch the Throne
As part of the Gates Foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, they encourage designers to create innovative technologies to manage human waste and eradicate associated diseases in poorer countries.
This past week, it looks like they landed on a winner. According to their Samsung partner, the toilet essentially sets your poop on fire, fully dehydrating it and combusting it into ashes. As for your pee, it gets recycled via a biological purification process. I don't know how this works, but I'm sure Jackass producers are working on something as we speak.