Sunday, March 08, 2009

Ice Art: A Critique

I believe I've mentioned before how bad the art on ice bags can be. I see a lot of different brands of ice (albeit early in the morning, when I'm already in a bad mood and not very charitable), and I thought I'd show you a few of the things I've had to withstand. In my own ridiculous style, here follows a review of several of the most common ice companies' bag art:

Generic Ice Bag: Simple, but no imagination. Then again, no news is good news, and this is much better than some of the crap designs that follow. I give it a C, just as much for not being bad as not being good.

Macondo Ice: I'm not sure what a Macondo is, but I kinda like the name. I'm on board already, and the retro "Price Is Right" theme only adds to the presentaion. However, this ice is clearly not crystal clear, as the bag posits. Thumbs up for style, thumbs down for truth in advertising. Again, a C.

Snowman Ice: This is one of the ones I hate. Here's what is ostensibly a snowman, but he could just as easily be made of dough the way his legjoints work. He's standing on one leg on a block of wood amidst clawmarks from an unseen predator. Illogical, ill-executed, and just plain bad. Its only merit is that it's labeled 'ice,' and it does in fact contain ice. D.

Jack Frost Ice: Ugh. OK, how long will it take for designers to realize that powder blue and light red are colors that, when paired, should exist only in the 60s? And let's take a look at Jack himself. Wearing underwear on the outside is neither smart nor fashionable. His left arm seems to have been twisted into a stump, yet we can still see his left hand. And he's doing the HEEEyyyy point, which makes him a douchebag. And what's with his eyes? Instead of pupils, he seems to have the lost Sankara stones from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This one gives me nightmares. F.

Subservient Eskimo Ice: This one, again, gives me the willies. Here's a random shape that someone thought would look like an igloo if that someone just drew a few lines on it and made a door at the bottom. This guy's not going to fit in there, even if there is a party picnic going on. And let's take a closer look at this dude's face. Those are sharp teeth he's got. This may be the elusive predator that took a shot at the wood-block doughman. Plus, again with the sparkling. Sparkling water doesn't sparkle, and neither does ice. But I am down with monsters where you least expect them. C.

IceWorks Ice: Now we're getting somewhere. We got art deco going on here. Little problem with the proportions with the buildings in the front (or are those ice towers?), but look at the fade work at the top. This is good work. However: the bottom, the address of the factory is listed. Research Blvd., eh? If you have to build a factory on Research Blvd. to figure out the recipe for ice, you're trying too hard. Excellent execution, but lousy IQ. B.

Mireles Ice: OK, this just looks like the front of an 8th grade cheerleader's math notebook. Mireless is Spanish for 'look at this,' and I can't tell if that's ironic or not. Either way, I don't wanna look at it. D.

Home City Ice: We have some good art principles going on here, good use of negative and positive space, even if we are back to red and blue again. Home City... makes you think of where you live.. .a comforting setting in which to use ice. However, this is one of those that goes overboard with the description. Ice is frozen water. And here we have "Cube Size Ice Nuggets." Not sure if I want to have all that trouble in my glass. And something about not using the superlative of the word 'healthy' makes the slogan sound a little off. "Healthier than homemade! It's not the healthiest, but it's better that what you can do with your antiquated home ice-making equipment." Great art, but the wordage is a little on the snarky side. B.

Glace Ice: Now this one is just a pleasure to review. This is a first in all my years of ice looking-at: a three-color design. Blue, white, and off white, just to give the illusion of depth. This is a bear that actually looks like a bear. Also, the bag is translucent blue, which gives an extra touch of class. And, in a postmodern move:

...the bag is simply labeled 'ice,' in both English and French. Must be Canadian. A little pretentious, but the art backs it up. A.

North Hollywood Ice: They say when your enemy goes high-tech, you go low-tech. This approach also works here. You'd think that Hollywood would crank out a glitzy product, but what we have is a simple carriage. But it evokes the Old West days, where folk waited for the ice wagon to roll in and cool things off. You do most of the work in your mind here, but the end result is the image of an oasis of cool in an unforgiving world of hot. No one's driving the carriage though, and that's a little spooky. B+.

Arctic Glacier Ice: Here again is good work. Three color art, albeit with red and blue again, but the darker blue doesn't clash with the red as much. A trap skillfully avoided. 'Premium ice' is a little overblown of a claim, but while we're on that, let's look at the back:

...where an even overblowner claim is made: inside-out frozen ice! Just how does that work? And when it's fully frozen, can anyone but an ice scientist tell the difference? And again they're bagging on us for not being able to use the power of temperature in our own homes, while giving us the 'crystal clear' line again, and check out 'hard-frozen.' Isn't 'soft-frozen' called melted? However, they self-deprecate enough with the next line that I'm willing to believe that they're not all jerks in the ad department. Great art, complicated and dubious science, and a joke. B.
Spanish Ice: This here says ice in Spanish. Don't believe me? Well just look at the penguin! Direct, and bilingual. Well, single-lingual, because it's not in English too. But the penguin dressed up. B.

Reddy Ice: They fell into the red/blue trap here, but the clean design and translucent work dig them back out. They should perhaps learn to spell. but the repetition of the Ds draws your eye in toward the snowflake. Design principles at work. B-.
Crazy Cubes: Now here's crappy. What colors are these? Yup. And as patriotic as that may be, whay exactly is crazy about ice? Or a cube, for that matter? A square six-sided object is about the most stable and predictable thing I can imagine. Plus, with all this GHB scare going on, do you really want crazy in your drink? I don't. Oh, but look where it's manufactured:

...yup, New Orleans. That explains it. And you gotta love the translation of "Cubitos Locos." Typical N.O. production...broken all up but with a lot of heart, and that's what gets this one by. C+.
Glace Ice (again): I don't know if this is the same company with a new design, but it's pretty good too. Stark blue with fade work almost makes you feel the cold, right? And look, a warning to keep frozen...why do all ice companies think we're complete idiots? B+.
All Season Ice: Thought I'd end on a good note. Now this is brilliant. Though one color, the clean lines and use of space knocks out the competition. The sun/snowflake icon is something you'd look at in a magazine or in a gallery, and here it is on a bag of ice. I'd get a tattoo of that. Wonderful. And no bigger-than-science claims about how technically proficient this frozen water is...just a reminder that you can use it anytime. It'll be there for you, whatever the season. Stellar. A+.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hilarious! A+

6:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil, Macondo is the made up place where Cien Años de Soledad by Gabriel García Márquez takes place. It's supposed to be in a tropical setting with lots of heat and rain.

And "míreles" could be spanish for look at them, in plural and using the formal "usted" form. It's likely it refers to a surname.

Greetings from MMMX.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous sandtalker said...

Miraless makes sense, in a bilingual way, Mira (look) + Less = Seen less, or not seen, which leads to: Invisible, so it is a claim of crystal clear, in a way. I would take it down another notch!

2:19 PM  
Anonymous viennatech said...

Hello from CYOW.
For your snowman ice, it's not actually a block of wood but a block of ice that he is skating on, hence the scratch marks. You can tell it's ice by the snow piles on either side. I guess you have to be Canadian to know ice this well.,.. Great post Phil!

6:31 AM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Bwwwahahahah!! GENIUS! I guess I may need to start flying more because I've only witnessed about half of these bags! SOOo hilarious. Your next blog should be dedicated to the many different types of ice in each bag. They are all SO different, as you know.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Aviatrix said...

I have never noticed "Keep Frozen" written on an ice bag. That's just ... wow. I try to imagine the individual who changes the way they treat the bag because of having read that. Well, other than laughing at it and photographing it.

When I flew cargo our base stations had rolls of stickers reading "Keep Frozen" and "Do Not Freeze". We thought they were the most hilarious joke, because it all got rolled across the same ramp and loaded into the same airplane cargo hold. If it was winter it would all freeze and if it was summer it would all melt.

1:34 AM  
Blogger Aviatrix said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:34 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

This post is hilarious! Thanks so much for making my day.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous zb said...

Awesome post. But:

Compared to artwork that was created with unthinkable amounts of money by big food companies, I'd say all of them deserve an A. Even the crappy ones are honest. I love the twisted snowman. Look at how happy he is! Where in the world of advertising and product artwork can you find a character as simple and happy?

All of these ice bag designs were lucky enough to escape professional streamlining and thus, the characters need not be anorexic.

All this is a treasure and I hope it remains undetected by marketing and design agents who would only contribute cynism while shifting the designs to a more professional look.

These pictures of today's ice bags seem like the last five decades had never happened, and they seem like no one had ever payed attention to what was wisely analyzed by Vance Packard in 1957

4:09 AM  
Blogger Aviatrix said...

Thanks, zb, for the whimsical take. It's like appreciating googie architecture or 1960s era psychedelic mosaics. "Wow, they thought this made sense!"

Phil, we miss you. come back!

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You didn't die in a plane crash, did you?

9:07 AM  
Blogger Jo Jo Fat Stuff said...

Phil.... miss you -- please post :)

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, where the hell's Phil?

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Nathan said...

Cheers Phil! From your new friends at All Seasons Ice. I was going to make a funny joke here, but after consulting with legal council, I had better hold off.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Aviatrix said...

When you named your blog, did you intend the name to reflect your blogging habits as well as your job?

9:15 PM  
Blogger Tracy Salas said...

where the hell IS phil!?

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6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos on a fine amount of research, obsession, and compulsion! I can finally make an educated stab at purchasing the very best frozen water possible! I've learned three very important things:

1. Ice Works may have over-thought themselves a bit. As a youth, I half-assed my way through a science project by researching which froze faster: cold water versus hot water. Yes, a big duh! now, but at the time I confused the teacher enough to at least score a passing grade, because I did research it, after all. So at least they show that they're not just freezing water all willy-nilly. There's a science to it!

2. Home City ... what a smart-ass! "Oh, our water is better than yours! Your freezer has cooties! Your spigot is rusty and inferior!" I don't need the condescension when chilling my beverage. And the 'cube sized nuggets' - reminds me of a bag of Dove Chocolates. Seen those lately? They now claim to be 'Silk Smooth Chocolate PROMISES.' What the- ? Promises? No, candy. Home City needs to get over themselves and call it like it is. Plain old ice.

3. Arctic Glacier gets my vote. I have a real appreciation for a sense of humor, but when it doubles as a modest and honest campaign, then I must approve. Because they're absolutely right. They have no taste. How many times have we said that about ourselves? They are the ice for every man. Too bad my only choices here are Reddy Ice and that Jack Frost crap...


11:25 AM  
Blogger Aviatrix said...

We miss you.

6:06 PM  
Anonymous zb said...


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Blogger tiktok said...

blog is great~~祝你人氣高高~ ........................................

2:07 AM  
Blogger Aviatrix said...

For those who wonder, I have recently made contact with Phil, or with an entity with an uncanny ability to imitate his voice and conversational style. I lost a "who has the earliest report time?" contest with my submission of 5:30 a.m. (His was 3:15). But other than getting up at unreasonable times of the night, he seemed well. He just has Other Things to do.

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