Let’s try that once more

April 11th, 2014 by Sean

 

I’m making a new course for Lynda.com. This course, Fundamentals of Layout: Marketing Collateral, gave me the chance to talk about issue such as designing a letterhead, business card, poster, even swag. I wrote the course, did the read throughs, and created the visual assets. I thought I was so all together.

For this course, we relied mostly on visual references and text slides. This meant I spent less time in front of the camera and more in the sound booth recording the voice-over. I did, however, need to film the introductions and conclusions to each movie. This all seemed like no problem until I realized that I couldn’t use a teleprompter for these. I needed to memorize each of the sections of the scripts that had live action. Now this doesn’t sound too hard. I wrote them, I know what I’m talking about. But it was one of the most harrowing days of my life. It was like a 12 hour day having a root canal.

Take after take, I would stumble through, getting 25 % right, or 75%, but never perfect. I had that disembodied feeling like my mouth kept moving and making odd sounds that seemed like words but made no sense. The more I goofed up, the more freaked out I was. My producer, Susan, was beyond patient and encouraging, telling me in my headset, “No problem, we’ll get there,” and, “That was great.” But I’m sure she wanted to blow her brains out sitting in the production room. I kept thinking about the scene in Inside Daisy Clover when Daisy (Natalie Wood) freaks out doing a dubbing. I stopped short of clawing at the window screaming.

Mon beau Montréal

March 24th, 2014 by Sean
1976 Montréal Olympics, Georges Huel

1976 Montréal Olympics, Georges Huel

I recently judged a competition for the GDC in Canada. Much of the work was from Montréal, and it was darned good. There’s some cracker jack stuff happening up there in the cold north. I’ve never been to Montreal, but I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited to many other parts of Canada.

If you’ve never been, it’s like this: imagine that you go back in time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. You step on that one butterfly, and sure enough the butterfly effect happens. Once you go back into the time machine and return to the present day, everything seems the same… almost. That’s what Canada is like. It seems just like home, but then there are little things that are just slightly different, like a different dimension one step away from our reality. Of course, there is different money. They speak English, albeit slightly differently. The stores are sort of the same, except you can buy really cool lumberjack kind of stuff at Roots. And they look like us, but they’re incredibly nice.

One of my favorite Olympics programs, or programme to our French Canadian friends, is the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Georges Huel created a harmony of elements that are exuberant and tightly controlled. What a wonderful time it must have been in 1976. A designer could design with flawless Swiss typography, staying on the grid, aligning photos to the golden section. Nobody made accusations of post-modern referential appropriation. Swiss typography in a pure form was a just a swell solution. Judging by the photo of Huel’s team, I imagine lots of long lunches drinking Harvey Wallbangers and chilled white wine..

 

Design Team: Georges Huel, Léo Chevalier, Marielle Fleury, Michel Robichaud, John Warden

Design Team: Georges Huel, Léo Chevalier, Marielle Fleury, Michel Robichaud, John Warden

 

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I’m Old Fashioned

March 20th, 2014 by Sean
Metropolitan Baseball Nine Team in 1882

Metropolitan Baseball Nine Team in 1882

I have a saying about students who refuse to listen to any criticism or advice, either from myself or other students, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t beat it to death once it’s there.” Unfortunately, like many of my sayings, this is out of date. I asked Nathan in my office if the tires on his car, which are very thin, make it seem like riding in a horse-drawn buggy. Noreen suggested that few people spend time riding in a buggy, that I was again, out of touch.

I was pleased that many of you, and a nice article for Fast Company liked my Complaint poster for the Wolfsonian, or as I prefer to call it, Hate in Salmon Pink. If you look closely, you’ll find several cameo appearances in here: Kim Novak in Vertigo, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Truman Capote, the flight attendant from 2001, even some of my trendy neighbors in Los Feliz, or as I now call it, “BBB: Beards, Bangs, and Beanies.”  Here again, I was told my cultural references were out of date.

Recently, however, I found some wonderful images of baseball teams for my guest bathroom. Yes, wrong time frame.

University of Michigan, baseball team, 1888

University of Michigan, baseball team, 1888

University of Michigan, baseball team, 1886

University of Michigan, baseball team, 1886

The Avant Garde in Felt

March 10th, 2014 by Sean
Sean Adams, AIGA 100 project: 1955

Sean Adams, AIGA 100 project: 1955

A few weeks ago, I was asked to create a solution for an AIGA project celebrating the 100 year anniversary. 100 designers were asked to choose a year, and design a piece that highlighted an event from that year. Michael Bierut got to 1968 before I could, so I took 1955. In 1955, the Ford Thunderbird was released and Disneyland opened. Obviously, Disneyland ended up as my subject.

As a roundabout explanation of the process, I’ve been a huge Cathy of California fan for years. I was having lunch at our local groovy Los Feliz Mexican restaurant, Mexico City, when I recognized Cathy Callahan herself. I’m not easily impressed by celebrity. I’ve met my share of famous actors and such. But I was super freaked meeting Cathy in real life and probably a babbling fool.

Around the time I started the 1955 project, I bought Cathy’s book, Vintage Craft Workshop: Fresh Takes on Twenty-Four Classic Projects from the ’60s and ’70s. Something clicked, or broke, in my brain, and I decided to make my piece out of craft materials. It seemed fitting for a 1955 concept and I obviously have too much time on my hands. I could have cheated and Photoshopped the whole thing from stock images, but I actually went to Michael’s craft supplies (that was a terrifying experience) and bought stuff.

I cut up my felt, raffia, burlap, and glitter paper. I found old buttons and cufflinks. I used the hot glue gun to attach the stuff to the burlap (which smells weird), and voila. I know most designers are looking for a cutting edge, an extreme approach to the avant grade, and the next big thing. I now have clear evidence that I am as far from hip and cutting edge as Lawrence Welk or Barry Goldwater. At the same time, I think my craft solution this proves that I am incredibly brave or, more likely, clueless.

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Avast Ye Matey

February 26th, 2014 by Sean

 

The Klamath opening poster, Landor and Associates

The Klamath opening poster, Landor and Associates

Our office at AdamsMorioka is in the Flynt Building in Beverly Hills. It used to be the Great Western Bank Building and has a giant statue of John Wayne out front. Don’t worry, there is no porn being filmed in the building, unless it’s happening after hours in our office and I don’t know about it. The building was designed by William Pereira and Associates in 1972. It is an oval shape and has beautiful details of late modernism. When we tell a guest how to get to the restroom or other directions, we use the terms “bow” and “stern”. That’s the curved front or back of the building.

Landor and Associates in San Francisco, however, had a real boat. When they talked about the bow and stern, they meant it. The Klamath was the company’s headquarters from the 1960s -1980s. This was a radical departure for a firm. Most design agencies don’t work on boats, especially a company engaged in high end corporate work. But it became a symbol for Landor’s creativity and separated them from the traditional and stodgy firms in New York.

We’ve been considering a move recently. Right now we’re on the port side of the building in the middle. We would like to be on a real boat. Barring that option, we may find ourselves on the bow or stern of our landlocked ship at the corner of La Cienega and Wilshire. If that happens, I intend to redesign the office in a nautical theme with anchors, nautical flags, oil paintings of clipper ships, and desks that look like old ship flooring. We’ll serve grog to guests rather than water or soda.

 

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