Curious Creations

Witty Digital Mashups, Exaggerations and Puns

Australian designer Nicholas Ely originally worked in theatre, putting himself about in all sorts of different positions from front of house to stage managing. Eventually he fell into designing posters and everything seemed to fall into place. Catching the bug, Nicholas retrained in design and has never looked back. His latest series Curiosities, perhaps draws on the guile and wit of past experience, humorously conflating or making suggestions with digital images.

Infinity Ball
1.Infinity Ball
Basil Flavoured
2.Basil Flavoured
Shell Shark
9.Shell Shark
“I didn’t originally conceive it as a series,” explains Nicholas. “I had designed a poster with a shark’s head on it, and you know how it goes, suddenly in the middle of the night my half-asleep mind imposed the shark head onto a bullet casing and called it ‘Shell Shark’. The rest trickled out from that.” As much as the visual elements, puns have a big part to play in this serious, some of them more shameless than others.

The series might not have been intended originally as a coherent whole, but the same sense of playfulness, the same deft artistic flair and the same precision features in every image. Nicholas maps these pre-visualised images in 3D, sometimes finishing them up with a little hand illustration.

We were keen to find out more about this humorous collection:

The Plus: What’s your intention with the series, is it mostly just for fun?
Nicholas Ely:
There is absolutely no intention, perhaps other than to produce a series. I’ve often said to myself, ‘I should do a series of robots. Or a series of robot cats. Or a series of ridiculous products.’ The turnaround on Shell Shark was fast, and there was an encouraging response so I made more. I don’t know that I’ll ever finish it, I’ll always give myself the chance to add new ones.

Millions and Billions
4.Millions and Billions
TP: Why the name Curiosities?
I titled the series quite late in the piece, but I think the word Curiosities sums it up. These are things to arouse curiosity. In me as much as an audience. Some have more prescriptive interpretations but for the most part I didn’t want to make things with self-evident meaning. They’re open metaphors. They mean whatever you think they mean.

Sky Writing
5.Sky writing
TP: You’ve put an Andy Warhol icon on toilet paper…are you not a fan?
Who says toilet paper is implicitly derogatory?

War Roll
6.War Roll
TP: Can you tell us about some of your hidden talents (you have a few!)?
Ha! That’s very kind of you to say. I am a poet with profanity. I act from time to time, I’ve had a few small roles on TV, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to talent. I often wish I had the fortitude and fearlessness to embrace the internet more. I’d love to make vlogs on Youtube, but there’s no returning from that path. And I do a pretty good impersonation of Daniel Plainview.

Workers of the Globe
7.Workers of the Globe
TP: Who do you look up to in the design world?
I love Karel Teissig’s paper collage posters. For my two cents, he’s the Tarkovsky of posters. I love Saul Bass, Drew Struzan, Bill Gold, Roger Kastel. I love the JAWS poster. I just love that bloody thing.

Tea for One
8.Tea for One
TP: If you ever have your own company/studio, what will it be like?

Sweet Death
10.Sweet Death
Long Play
11.Long Play