Joe Zeff Design

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Above & Beyond: John Kascht

Joe Zeff Design, cited by The Guardian as "one of America's top app designers," is pleased to announce that "Above & Beyond: John Kascht" is now available for sale in the iTunes App Store. The app is the latest in Joe Zeff Design's groundbreaking series of interactive books for the Apple iPad, telling the remarkable story of caricature artist John Kascht. Kascht's work appears on magazine features, book jackets, theater marquees and in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. Kascht has also gained a following for his multimedia endeavors about his artwork, including a video documentary about drawing talk-show host Conan O'Brien that has attracted more than 120,000 YouTube downloads.

"Above & Beyond: John Kascht" extends beyond the artist's iconic watercolor paintings to present the stories behind his unforgettable work, transforming a gallery of illustrations into a robust experience that both educates and entertains, making it suitable for all ages. Among the highlights:

• Enjoy 30 of Kascht's most significant works, presented alongside his original sketches, audio commentary and other context that helps the audience understand how the paintings came to be.

• Hear Wendy Wick Reaves, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the National Portrait Gallery, describe Kascht's role among contemporary illustrators, and explore many of his paintings that are part of the gallery's permanent collection.

• Interact with the app by exploring immersive panoramas of Kascht's rural Pennsylvania farmhouse and his personal studio, and peer into a hive containing 500,000 honeybees, maintained by Kascht and his wife, Dolores.

• Watch an exclusive video in which Kascht describes a process in which he carefully dissects each subject and reassembles the parts in unexpected ways. "A caricature," says Kascht, "is a portrait with the volume turned up."

• Share images with friends through e-mail, Facebook and Twitter.

More screen captures and a promotional video can be seen at

The app contains photography and video by A. Greg Raymond, a frequent collaborator with Kascht. Raymond described the project as transformative, tracing an evolution from still photography to video storytelling to something altogether different. "Composing with motion was exciting, and it still is, but the linear narrative is still handicapped. The viewer is a passenger. From the time a video starts until the end, the viewer sits and hopefully watches the piece in its entirety. The Above and Beyond series really changes that, by engaging and encouraging the viewer to interact in a way never before possible."

The series originated with "Above & Beyond: George Steinmetz," a collaboration between publisher Joe Zeff Design and the well-known National Geographic photographer. It has been recognized by Apple as an iTunes Store Staff Favorite in more than 65 countries and an App of the Week selection in Australia and New Zealand. The app "reinvents what a publication can be on the iPad," according to the Society of Publication Designers, and has been featured by Time magazine and Reader's Digest. It has climbed as high as 34th overall in the U.S. iTunes Store rankings, and is available here.

To celebrate the launch of "Above & Beyond: John Kascht," the Steinmetz app has been enhanced to include five new images and audio commentaries. The update is free to existing owners and can be downloaded through iTunes. The price of the app remains unchanged, at $1.99.

Joe Zeff Design continues to define storytelling opportunities on the iPad with its app development. Most recently the studio designed and developed a special app for TIME magazine commemorating the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The studio also designed and illustrated "Solar System for iPad," an iTunes App of the Week from Touch Press and one of only 66 apps in Apple's iPad Hall of Fame. A second collaboration between Joe Zeff Design and Touch Press is currently in late stages of development. Other noteworthy apps include "The Final Hours of Portal 2," described by Fast Company as "pushing the limits of storytelling" and "a model for publishing a la carte journalism as apps," and apps for corporate clients including PepsiCo and Splashlight.

Zeff and Kascht are scheduled to appear together at the Society of Illustrators in New York City in October to discuss "Above & Beyond: John Kascht" and its implications for illustrators. Zeff has addressed audiences throughout the world (Amsterdam, New York) about opportunities afforded by a publishing revolution that puts content creators in control of their work, and has been profiled by Adweek and other publications. Zeff will also be speaking about the power of apps to transform businesses at a Sept. 30 event at Ogilvy and Mather, sponsored by Tekserve. Watch this space for details.