The Great Blandini

This one was flat-out fun – but it also changed a man’s life.

In one of those rare stories that directly demonstrate the power of branding, our client was able to turn a sideline into his full-time business, thanks to the exposure his new identity gave him.

It began when Mike Rigby, then Creative Director at Interbrand in Sydney, asked us to help create a new identity for master retoucher Steve Bland.

‘Any sufficiently advanced technology,’ wrote Arthur C. Clarke, ‘is indistinguishable from magic.’ And the work of a skilled photo retoucher certainly looks like sorcery, as elements disappear or move around, colours shift and faces transform before your eyes. The nature of reality itself can start to feel a little shaky.

That was the key to the idea for Steve’s identity, which was to transform him – as if by magic – into ‘The Great Blandini’.

Visually and verbally, we adopted the grandiloquence of Victorian music hall playbills to create a charming, tongue-in-cheek and highly distinctive brand.

Our first project was Steve’s poster, sent out in a magic–wand tube. That was accompanied with a set of playing cards (instead of standard business cards), which described some of Steve’s greatest illusions.

We followed up with The Little Book of Photo–Shoppe Trickery, a sort of chap–book that described, and illustrated, many of Steve’s tricks. (All the lettering was hand-rendered by Jefton Sungkar.)

The arcane, wild language aside, each trick is genuine – and hopefully genuinely useful for other Photoshoppers. So there was a level of utility to the book that might not be immediately obvious.

The work scooped up a little clutch of awards. But most exciting of all was that after his rebrand, Steve found himself in such demand that he chucked in his day job and took on the mantle of The Great Blandini full time.

And that’s magic.

Steve Bland
D&AD In Book (Writing for Design) 2011 / Red Dot Award 2011 / D&AD In Book (Writing for Design) 2012
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