Archive for the ‘What’ Category

I’m Old Fashioned

Thursday, March 20th, 2014
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 Unfortunately, like many of my sayings, this is out of date.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  Here again, I was told my cultural references were out of date.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 Accidental Totem

Thursday, February 13th, 2014
Slide 22

Slide 22

 

Before people could take hundreds go photos a day without a care in the world, there was a time when every image counted. The prints and slides cost money. Each one, really. Consequently, people kept every print or slide, regardless of the quality. I recently converted a batch of family slides to a digital format. When I began to organize them, I found that my favorites were the odd photos that seemed to have no purpose. These were the accidents. Either the camera moved, or the subjects didn’t cooperate, or they simply seem to be of odd things like a bush. But, they were costly, so nobody threw any out. And now, I find that I cannot put them in the trash either.

box-2-slide-38

 

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My mask of sanity is about to slip

Monday, February 10th, 2014
One of the things I really hate

One of the things I really hate

People often mistake me for a nice person.  Noreen tells me that she is constantly confronted with, “Oh, Sean is the nicest person I know.” I’m actually a sociopath. At a lecture in Dallas ten years ago, during the Q+A, someone said, “You remind me of the guy in American Psycho.” How right they were. When Steven Heller asked me to design a poster for the Complaints exhibition at the Wolfsonian, I was chomping at the bit. There were so many things I hated. I couldn’t decide which I despised more: walking slowly four abreast, stopping at the top of the escalator, hipsters, children in matching outfits, guys who shave nude at the gym, or salespeople touching me. The list kept going. So I did all of them. They are quite varied and point to my rage issues. The commonality is that I would like to kill each culprit slowly with a butter knife. Golly, I guess that’s not too nice.

Adams_Complaint_01.02americanpsycho2
yacht tenure tables spacenitwithappy greetings facial-hair escalator children

One of the things I really hate

One of the things I really hate

salespeople photo nude hipsters bunny

 

Left of Center

Friday, January 31st, 2014
margetlarsen

Marget Larsen

Many of you have written me and asked, “Sean, WTF? What happened to Burning Settlers Cabin?” The simple answer is that I have four jobs: AdamsMorioka, Art Center, AIGA, and Lynda.com. As you know, I was also in Berlin for three months for the Art Center TestLab. And, of course, I have a very busy routine hanging out at the country club drinking martinis, tennis lessons, and playing golf every afternoon. But now, I’m getting a handle on it all and back to bring optimism back to the world.

In between my freshman and sophomore year at college, I was asked to interview at Landor and Associates for an internship. The interview was remarkably humiliating. The first comment being, “Uh, you might want to consider cleaning up the rubber cement on your projects, and using something other than a chainsaw to trim them.” The downside was no internship. The upside was a great lesson that my sloppy, messy CalArts portfolio wouldn’t fly in the actual professional world.

In my head, I imagined all the work in San Francisco to be like the remarkable packaging Marget Larsen did there. Her projects for Joseph Magnin were light and playful and people coveted them. They have a tinge of counter-culture, Victorian eclecticism, and clear Modernism. Most importantly, they were fun. They didn’t look constipated, uptight, and angry. It was clear that the designer enjoyed making them. Today, when every project is run through ten committees and budget is the highest concern, it is hard to imagine anyone giving the green-light to a box that turns into a Thonet chair or multi-colored set of game boxes. Larsen’s work is ground-breaking and was widely imitated. She had the misfortune of working at a time when few women in the profession were recognized on a coast where only “far-out and wacky” work was produced.

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When Colors Collide

Monday, November 25th, 2013
Epcot gift bag, early 1980s

Epcot gift bag, early 1980s

When EPCOT opened in 1982, the concept was innovation and globalism. Wait isn’t that what every conference today is about? The park was and is divided into two sections, Future World and World Showcase. Future World was where corporations like Exxon could prove how good strip mining was. World Showcase would bring cultures from around the globe to the American tourist. The visual theme of Future World was the same as the 1990s Star Trek: TNG, mid-level hotel or medical offices in non-threatening tones. The large spaces had lots of carpeting, an abundance of rounded corners, and odd geometric benches.

In my head, I’ve always pictured 1980s EPCOT as a unified and sleek place. The color palette was silver, blue, and white. The materials were aluminum and fiberglass. But, I was wrong. While researching the color palettes I found some truly hideous combinations. Now, I’ve always said no two colors dislike each other. Again, I was wrong. Some of the combinations are terrifying. It would never occur to me to combine pink, teal, plum, and orange. I’m still semi-sane. So what happened? Why the hard left away from the silver and blue? I don’t know. I do know, however, that these combinations do not exist naturally, and no software product will ever provide a palette like these.

Bag palette

Bag palette

EPCOT 1982

EPCOT 1982

 

Epcot map, 1983

Epcot map, 1983

 

Map Palette

Map Palette

 

Epcot mug

Epcot mug

 

Mug Palette

Mug Palette

 

pin

Button Palette

Button Palette

 

Gateway Gifts sign, Epcot, 1982

Gateway Gifts sign, Epcot, 1982

 

Gateway Gifts palette

Gateway Gifts palette

 

Epcotmap2

Guidebook paltette

Guidebook paltette