Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
At the Fluxus exhibition, Fondazione Bonotto, Comune di Venezia

At the Fluxus exhibition, Fondazione Bonotto, Comune di Venezia

My dad told me, “You can go along with the fates, or you’ll be dragged along behind them.” The point was to accept change and gracefully move forward. That being said, it’s not so easy. In the last year and a half, I’ve been faced with many decisions and changes. Sometimes I went along easily. At other times the universe had to slam my head against the wall repeatedly until I got the message. I like to think I’ve come through the other end with a greater acceptance of change and see it as a wonderful adventure. But, then iPhoto became Photos.

I can’t get behind this one. It does all kinds of dumb things like losing titles that I painstakingly added with names and dates (which I like to use, oddly). Then it sucked up another 70 gigabytes of space. And then I find that the dates are goofed up. So I’ve ditched it and gone back to Aperature.

The good part of this (see, always play the Glad Game)*, was that I found hundreds of images that I forgot about. Many of them from my recent Italian trip. Like most of you, mine are bereft of people. Why take photos of your friends or spouse when there is a cool cup at the synagogue in Rome?

*The Glad Game: Pollyanna, 1960

As a child with her missionary parents in Africa, Pollyanna asks for a doll for Christmas. When supplies arrive in the tiny village, the church has sent, not a doll, but crutches. Pollyanna is sad. Her father suggests playing the Glad Game. She should find a silver lining. In this instance, she should be glad she doesn’t need the crutches.

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Italian Types 1

Monday, May 4th, 2015
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Eden Hotel sign

On Sunday I returned home from a two week visit to Italy. Of course, two weeks is never enough. But unlike my ancestors who took six months to do the Grand Tour, I have three weeks between terms at Art Center and Michael has a real job. I found it easy to get used to having four people wait on me at breakfast. I also now know I need someone who can iron the sheets everyday. It’s barbaric to make one’s own bowl of Panda Puffs and Go Lean cereal each morning.

Typically, most of my photographs are of typography or color palettes. This time, however, I also managed a whole series of on nude statues and ceilings. I’m usually the only one taking the close up photos of the type, but there was another woman on the Vatican garden tour doing the same thing. We eyed each other suspiciously.

In my travels of typographic photography in Italy, I discovered something right under my nose: Hermann Zapf was a real Italophile. Who knew? Palatino is named after Giambattista Palatino. Optima is based on Roman capitals. And then there’s Sistina (Sistine Chapel), Michelangelo, Medici Script, Zapfino, Marconi, Aldus (Venetian Aldus Manutius), and Vario.

Yes, I know this is super über geeky. It’s even geekier to be walking through ruins on the Palatine Hill and say out loud, “Oh my God! Palatino! of course!”

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Paper Pornography

Monday, April 20th, 2015

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Remember a few years ago when everyone in the world was certain print was dead and young people lived to design websites? Oddly, it didn’t turn out that way. A couple of weeks ago, my friend, Chris Harrold, visited with a box of incredible treasures. Mohawk Paper has the Strathmore Archives and Chris brought some of the most interesting projects. I considered mugging Chris and taking the work, but he knows me and where I live. And that’s not ethical (so I’m told).

I asked him to stop by the Archetype Press at Art Center to show some of my students and typography master, Gloria Kondrup. It was paper porn and the students were mesmerized. If you recall, these were the people who were supposed to swoon over websites. So, you see, people still appreciate the subtle color or finish of a paper stock. Even young people, who as Mr. Hand points out, “are all on dope.”

 

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The Pleasure of Small Problems

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015
Sean Adams, Soviet Dialogues poster, 2015

Sean Adams, Soviet Dialogues poster, 2015

Last week, I finished a poster for Dialogues: Poster Art of the Soviet Union. I could do anything I wanted. I chose to stay away from 45 degree angles and Constructivist typography. They just didn’t go well with Khrushchev‘s testicle quote. I had a great time working on it, and hope it is useful for the event. But is it graphic design?

For a long time, the battle cry of design has been “problem solving.” Well, what isn’t? Create an urban signage system to help revitalize mid-Manhattan. Yep, problem solved. Design an information guide and website to help in an environmental disaster, check. Make an identity system and collateral for a homeless shelter, uh huh. But the problem with narrowing the focus of design onto only a tiny aspect is the inherent exclusion of anything that is deemed as not serious problem solving. If there isn’t a multi-page case study, with dense research, clear results, and a sans serif font, then it’s not design.

But where does that leave the work that is, frankly, just amazing without a giant purpose? Using the metric of justifying all design by the density of the issue negates most of the work that moved the profession forward. That Paul Rand Apparel Arts Magazine cover with the propeller, really? That had a deep purpose and widespread effect on the garment industry? No, so it’s out. The same goes for Saul Bass’ beautiful poster for The Music Center, Alexey Brodovitch’s Ballet book, and a long list of work that shaped me as a designer.

I’ll stick with not defining graphic design. It uses words, symbols, and images to communicate. Some of it solves problems that are big, some solve the problem of making me happy for a moment. That’s good for me. Leaving this open allows for work that may be simply ridiculously wonderful.

Paul Rand, Apparel Arts magazine

Paul Rand, Apparel Arts magazine

Saul Bass, The Music Center

Saul Bass, The Music Center

Alexey Brodovitch, Ballet book

Alexey Brodovitch, Ballet book

Alexey Brodovitch, Ballet book

Alexey Brodovitch, Ballet book

Colin Forbes, Metrics  poster

Colin Forbes, Metrics poster

Paul Rand, Container Corporation of America

Paul Rand, Container Corporation of America

Leo Lionni, AIGA Award

Leo Lionni, AIGA Award

The Settlers Return

Friday, December 19th, 2014

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