Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

Please Remain Seated

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014
Bjorn Aronson, 1956

Bjorn Aronson, 1956

Lester Beall, 1937

Lester Beall, 1937

I was cleaning out my garage yesterday and a neighbor stopped by to say hello. The door of my garage leads into my rumpus room (yes it’s knotty pine, no we don’t play bridge in there). There are several Disneyland attraction posters in the rumpus room and she saw them on the wall. “Oh, I love your posters,” she said, “I mean I really, really love them.” I thanked her and then worried she might come back with a weapon.

This happens anytime anyone sees them. Even hardened academic post-modern/critical theory obsessed designer types like them. “Hmm, that isn’t bad, I guess,” they say.

Why is that? First, they are remarkably well designed. Second, they’re big and people like big things. Third, they remind the viewer of a good experience. And finally, they tap into the common iconography of travel and adventure.

So, let’s start with the influences. The Disneyland Hotel poster (above) borrows arrows from Beall’s Rural Electrification poster, and geometric shapes from Russian Constructivism.

Clearly the WPA National Parks posters informed the design of many of the Disneyland attraction posters. The illustration style is representational. Larger than life scale defines the space. Dramatic lighting and bold colors dominate. The Grand Canyon Diorama poster is a close cousin to the See America poster.

Early American modernism, ala Lester Beall and Joseph Binder, is related with stylistic elements such as arrows and the use of implied perspective created with scale. The Skyway poster’s perspective employs the same device of extreme scale as the Binder Air Corps U.S. Army poster.

The idea of a strong foreground combined with a distant vista links the Frontierland and The National Parks WPA poster. The color choices in both examples veer from the expected, a sunny blue sky or water, to more dramatic options such as an orange sky on the WPA poster and ochre water on the Frontierland poster. Flat color and simple shapes define a silkscreened process in both examples.

Most important, however, is the inclusion of narrative. The posters promise a story. They exhibit bobsledding with super tan people, dangling from a thin wire on a gondola, or braving wild animals through the Grand Canyon Diorama. Each poster conveys a sense of time, place, and typically makes the viewer part of the action.

Yes, this has been an adventure through a serious dissertation on Disneyland attraction posters. But there is no cause for alarm. We have concluded this post, and future posts will return to less words.

Paul Hartley, 1958

Paul Hartley, 1958

WPA, 1938

WPA, 1938

Bjorn Aronson, 1955

Bjorn Aronson, 1955

WPA, 1938

WPA, 1938

Bjorn Aronson, 1955

Bjorn Aronson, 1955

Lucien Bernhard, 1916

Lucien Bernhard, 1916

Pau Hartley, 1959

Pau Hartley, 1959

Herbert Matter, 1936

Herbert Matter, 1936

Bjorn Aronson, 1956

Bjorn Aronson, 1956

Joseph Binder 1941

Joseph Binder 19

Paul Hartley, 1961

Paul Hartley, 1961

Max Huber, 1948

Max Huber, 1948

Ken Chapman, 1967

Ken Chapman, 1967

Man Ray, 1938

Man Ray, 1938

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Books on Fire

Saturday, October 25th, 2014
FHK Henrion The Complete Designer

FHK Henrion The Complete Designer

I am quite proud of my most recent project, to build a bookcase in my office at home. It still needs some trim work, but the books are in and nothing has collapsed. The most surprising aspect of the project was how many books I had. Who knew? These are only the design books, there are other bookcases in the house with more. I had quite a few duplicates that I tried donating to the Art Center library, but they didn’t need them. I didn’t want to throw the books away. I considered burning them in the driveway and telling my neighbors they were evil books: Catcher in the Rye, etc.. But I left them in a box on the curb, and they were gone in an hour.

Of course, that doesn’t stop me from buying more. One of my favorite publishers is Unit Editions. It’s a collaboration between Adrian Shaughnessy and Tony Brook in London. They focus on books with incredibly high quality and remarkable content. Rather than producing 25,000 copies of a book about business cards on cheap paper, Unit Editions publishers smaller quantities that will last for generations.

When I hear people ramble on about sustainable practices and how they used recycled paper for their brochure I nod approvingly. But, in the end, isn’t the truly sustainable action to create an artifact that will be used, saved, and not thrown in the trash?

As Lou Danziger told us as students, “Stop buying drugs. Buy books instead.” Very good advice, although as a student, I was spending my money on Cup o’ Noodles not drugs.

After

After

Manuals 1 Design & Identity Guidelines

Manuals 1 Design & Identity Guidelines

Total Design and its pioneering role in graphic design

Total Design and its pioneering role in graphic design

Supergraphics — Transforming Space

Supergraphics — Transforming Space

Supergraphics — Transforming Space

Supergraphics — Transforming Space

Supergraphics — Transforming Space

Supergraphics — Transforming Space

FHK Henrion The Complete Designer

FHK Henrion The Complete Designer

Herb Lubalin American Graphic Designer

Herb Lubalin American Graphic Designer

Manuals 1 Design & Identity Guidelines

Manuals 1 Design & Identity Guidelines

Manuals 1 Design & Identity Guidelines

Manuals 1 Design & Identity Guidelines

Jurriaan Schrofer (1926-90) Restless typographer

Jurriaan Schrofer (1926-90) Restless typographer

Jurriaan Schrofer (1926-90) Restless typographer

Jurriaan Schrofer (1926-90)
Restless typographer

Essays: Scratching the Surface Adrian Shaughnessy

Essays: Scratching the Surface
Adrian Shaughnessy

Ken Garland  Structure and Substance

Ken Garland
Structure and Substance

Ken Garland  Structure and Substance

Ken Garland
Structure and Substance

Supernew Supergraphics

Supernew Supergraphics

Type Only

Type Only

The Post about this Blog

Sunday, October 19th, 2014
Sean Adams, Burning Settlers Cabin, 2014

Sean Adams, Burning Settlers Cabin, 2014

 

One of the tenets of post-modernism is self-referential expression. This post, then is the post-modern one. This is a post about this blog.

When burningsettlerscabin first launched, I designed a nice Victorian logo for the masthead. It worked well with the minimal layout and I had fun making it. After awhile, I grew tired of that version. And its started to feel vertiginously close to hipster design. So I made a new one. This became an on-going hobby. The point of this blog is as shallow as it gets. If I’m interested in something or find an inspirational artifact or solution, I write about it. It’s that simple. If I want to, I write. If I don’t feel like it, I don’t. I know this is absolutely the most wrong thing one can do with all the rules of social media. But, I have so many other rules in life: typographic, social manners, organizing linen closets, age appropriate clothing, and the list goes on.

The masthead follows the same logic. If I feel like making a new one, I do. If it’s heinously hideous but I like it, I use it. So, in response to the requests to post one or the other mastheads here they are.

While some have said burningsettlerscabin is their “lite” (yes, spelled that way) version of Design Observer, consider this: In this post, self-referentiality [and the epistemological skepticism it implies] is central to postmodernism and takes its typological and typographic cue from the self-referential, though not mutually exclusive, aesthetics of nostalgia, irony, and satire.

See, the settlers at the cabin are way smart.

 

 

 

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Erotic Abandon

Monday, September 22nd, 2014
Eros magazine, Herb Lubalin Art Director, 1968

Eros magazine, Herb Lubalin Art Director, 1968

This is frustrating: I suggest that a student have more fun and freedom on a project and they return the next week with the most itsy-bitsy slight change. I don’t understand the timidness. It’s as if they believe God will strike them dead if they use a quickly drawn gesture, or too much color, or an enormously scaled grainy image. So I get the tidy and polite vector art solutions or lovely but dead photographs. It really drives me to murder. I’m the opposite of the cranky professors who say, “Oh, that’s gone too far.” I beg them, “Please, please go so far that everyone in the room is shocked and aghast at your complete lack of restraint.”

I’m not pushing students to go outside of their comfort level and work in broad strokes to be mean. I don’t want them to spend their lives designing tasteful wine labels and polite brochures. I want them to be wonderful.

The example I use is Herb Lubalin and Ralph Ginzburg’s Eros magazine. Eros was short lived, only four issues from 1968 to 1971. By today’s standards it tame. You can find more explicit imagery by doing a google search for “cat”. Lubalin uses the page like a giant canvas, not a small magazine. When he uses negative space, he does past the comfortable spot. When he handles headlines, he does bad things like smashing the copy together in a corner. The images are dramatic and play with radical scale and cropping. At the same time, the thing is refined to death.

Partners at a law firm usually make more than graphic designers. That’s ok because they have to wear real life work clothes and we don’t. And we can have fun. That’s the trade-off. Why be miserable and uptight, and a graphic designer. You can do that as a financial analyst and make much more money.

Spread images via: http://westread.blogspot.fr/

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Helvetica is Jan

Friday, August 8th, 2014
Neue Haas Grotesk, Christian Schwartz, 2004

Neue Haas Grotesk, Christian Schwartz, 2004

Speaking after Stefan Sagmeister at a conference is a bad idea. I’ve done this many times. It’s not that Stefan is nothing less than a true gentleman and good friend, it’s that when he finishes, I can look out at the audience from the side of the stage and see people streaming out en masse. “Well that’s what I came for, time to go,” they must be saying. I’m not crazy about doing this, as I tend to come off as, “and now for the easy listening break.”

Years ago, I spoke at a conference following someone, not as generous as Stefan, who was one of the hip and cool designers at that time. She talked about the critical theory and deconstruction of meaning regarding a logo she designed that looked exactly like Helvetica, but the crossbar of the “A” was removed. People seemed enthralled. I just thought, “and…”

Now, I’ve become that person, waxing on about the importance of the differences between Haas Grotesk and Helvetica. Sorry. I know everyone has a major hard-on for Helvetica, but I can’t look at it as anything but the less attractive sister of Haas Grotesk, like Jan and Marsha. Originally, Helvetica was Haas Grotesk, but over time changes were made for expediency. Christian Schwartz redrew Haas Grotesk in 2004, based on Max Miedinger‘s 1957 version.

Compared to standard issue system Helvetica, it’s elegant, crisp, warm, and legible. It doesn’t suffer from the “generic” look of Helvetica. I’ve been using it probably more than I should. I promise, however, to not talk endlessly about the lower case “r” at my next lecture. Maybe just a little.

Screen-Shot-2014-08-08-at-11.04.51-AM Screen-Shot-2014-08-08-at-11.04.17-AM Screen-Shot-2014-08-08-at-11.03.46-AMNeue_Haas_Grotesk-alphabet notebook-1957-May-07 specimen-1963-Neuburg_Rudin poster_front_website_905

Haas Grotesk (L) Helvetica (R)

Haas Grotesk (L) Helvetica (R)

Helvetica in Switzerland

Helvetica in Switzerland

Helvetica in Switzerland

Helvetica in Switzerland