Where We Go From Here

the journal of Rocketday Arts, issue 5 | ISSN 1920–9452
Tyl van Toorn

Tyl van Toorn at Habit Café, photographed by Rocketday

The music industry needs to respond to today’s landscape of illegal downloads, personalized online radio stations and unique international markets… What is the future of music distribution? And beyond that, what is the future of distribution for cinema, books and the arts in general?

transmitting globally

Back in the ’ol days of the music industry, producers created vinyl records and simply sold them to fans. Everyone along the chain was paid from this sale — from the record store owner, to the driver of the shipping truck, to the distributor, the labels, producers and managers, and the musicians and songwriters. Today, many fans are getting their music for free (often with illegal file sharing). Countries have differing copyright laws and citizens with differing degrees of wealth or poverty. But all listen to music.

With the digital, globalized world we now live in, the music industry needs to constantly reinvent itself. Tyl van Toorn has created an intimate venue for passionate music distributors, producers and musicians to meet, and navigate the future. Noticing that cinema and book publishing were addressing similar issues, the conversation was expanded to include all of the arts. The venue for this dialogue is TRANSMISSION : Global Summit.

Tyl describes the motivation: “We wanted to explore ways by which people connected. We felt that a think tank such as what’s now taking place at TRANSMISSION would be a very productive place for certain types of people. The round table model is really unique. Over the last four years we’ve continued to refine what essentially is a very intimate exchange of ideas.”

Rocketday supported TRANSMISSION in the development of its visual identity, print and web materials. Below is a bit of the story behind the work.

one ring
to rule them all

It started in 2008, with the exploration of over 20 concepts. We searched for imagery that communicated what TRANSMISSION was about: innovation at the intersection of arts, business and technology.

We landed on this ring. In the texture of the ring we could see the brushwork of a human hand, but could also see a mechanical process. We saw the grooves of a vinyl record in its texture. And saw an Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail, in its overall form. These visual characteristics all made sense for TRANSMISSION. We ran this key image across the website, posters, announcements, tshirts and with projections at the venue.

taking the ring
to China

A few months later, we complemented this with visual design work for transmitCHINA and transmitLIVE, sister expansions of the TRANSMISSION family. We continued the theme of a ring, but playfully used different rings for the different events.

But, as TRANSMISSION continued to grow, it all started to get a little complicated. There were now plans for events in multiple countries, and three streams would be omnipresent at each: (1) an intimate gathering of industry professionals, (2) live (public) showcases of artists, and (3) online editorial content. We needed to go back to the drawing board and see if we could design a new, cohesive brand that could hold it all.

photo at transmitCHINA by Caleb Beyers

Karen and Nadja at the beginning of their cross-Canada tour,
photographed by Rocketday

a little help from Germany

Inspired by the age-old European tradition of apprenticeship, German graphic designers Nadja Küpper and Karen Zeiger traveled across Canada, working in design studios in exchange for room and board, and for experiences in Canadian graphic design studios. Rocketday was their first host studio.

We loved having Nadja and Karen at our studio and in our homes. It was such a pleasure that the original 2-day visit expanded to over a week. We enlisted Nadja and Karen to join us in exploring a new TRANSMISSION brand. There were some beautiful results.

pink is
the new black

In exploring the colours, we surveyed over a hundred colleagues. Their comments brought to light the differing associations that different people had with our working colours.

The pink variant more womanly; orange – courageous.

— Olga (brand curator, Moscow)

Left set with the pink – I like these colours much better.  For me, they are interesting and inviting and quite striking, where the colours on the right set are too glossy, I’ve seen them before, they are too hip to be personal.

— Cassandra (composer, Den Haag)

Personally I find the pink fairly unpleasant and voted for the right one because those colors are more inviting.

— Glenn (filmmaker, Los Angeles)
Dushan Milic

a little help from Montreal

We commissioned Rocketday’s associate Dushan Milic to create supporting illustrations. We’d admired Dushan’s work in places such as the The New York Times, The Globe & Mail, Exclaim!, and Village Voice. From Montreal, Dushan took ink to paper, exploring the themes discussed at TRANSMISSION.

three rings
to rule them all

We refined and assembled these various pieces, constructing a new brand, a new website and new print materials for the whole family of TRANSMISSION.

Then we left the studio and enjoyed the conference, the live shows and conversations that ran past 2am each night. It remains one of our favourite projects.