Very Pretty Pretty Pretty

Warning or congratulations: There is some nudity below.

The first movie seen as a child leaves an indelible mark on one. Many of my friends cite the following: The Sound of MusicWizard of OzMary Poppins, even the oddly bizarre Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The first movie I recall seeing was Barbarella at a theater on Van Ness in San Francisco. I am convinced the typographic strip scene for the titles began my love for typography. It’s interesting that Barbarella was made in 1968, the same year 2001: A Space Odyssey.

2001 is a hard-edged technologically driven vision of the future. Barbarella is soft and sexual. They share a connection to psychedelia. The final scenes of 2001 and most of Barbarella are clearly about an altered mind experience. While I love 2001, Jane Fonda’s fur-lined spaceship is ingrained in my soul. If I had a spaceship and needed to spend months in space, I’d much rather have her groovy carpeted van version with the sexually ambiguous computer, rather than the pristine Discovery One and Hal (wait he’s sexually ambiguous also).

Sean Adams

Sean Adams is the Chair of the undergraduate and graduate Graphic Design Program at ArtCenter, founder of Burning Settlers Cabin studio, and on-screen author for LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com He is the only two term AIGA national president in AIGA’s 100 year history. In 2014, Adams was awarded the AIGA Medal, the highest honor in the profession. He is an AIGA Fellow, and Aspen Design Fellow. He has been recognized by every major competition and publication including; How, Print, Step, Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The British Art Director’s Club, and the Art Director’s Club. Adams has been exhibited often, including a solo exhibition at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Adams is an author of multiple magazine columns, and several best-selling books. He has been cited as one of the forty most important people shaping design internationally, and one of the top ten influential designers in the United States. Previously, Adams was a founding partner at AdamsMorioka, whose clients included The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Disney, Mohawk Fine Papers, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Richard Meier & Partners, Sundance, and the University of Southern California.

Party Like It's 1968, part 1

Last week I managed to crash this blog. I don’t know how, but Noreen said I did, so it’s probably true. In rebuilding the cabin, I found the year 1968 to appear more than any other. Now, a good editor would say, “Well, then, let’s make sure we cover other years.” But I say, “Let’s have more.” So prepare yourself.

I don’t know why 1968 shows up so much. It was a pivotal year in American culture. The Cultural Revolution was at its height. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, and Barbarella were released and depicted three distinctly different visions of the future. The Democratic National Convention in Chicago became a firestorm. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. And Richard Nixon was elected President.

In 1968, design had a wonderful combination of smart ideas mixed with a bolder palette and less rigid approach. On the whole, in design, this was the last gasp of the “simple big idea” school. By 1970, design had adopted expressive illustration and more intuitive solutions. If you think I had a personal connection to 1968, like high school graduation, you are wrong. I was four. We lived in the Haight in San Francisco, I was in an experimental co-op nursery school, and the first movie I remember seeing was Barbarella.

The Chamber of Dreams

How many times have you heard, “You know, my parents had that same lamp/mug/sofa. I wish I’d kept it.” Fortunately, I haven’t had that problem. My grandparents saved every shred of paper they ever received. And my mother moves a lot, so you quickly learn that objects are transitory. There is one item, however, that my mother had for years that I now regret not saving. It was a poster for the movie Camelot. Growing up, I thought it was simply a 1960s groovy poster. Now I realize how beautiful it is. The poster was illustrated by Bob Peak and is a remarkable harmony of images and pattern. Since I spent 18 of my formative years with this poster, I find I know every square inch. I need to find out if my mother still has it, and if so, distract her and steal it.

My parents followed the philosophy that children should be exposed to many things and not sheltered. The first movie I remember seeing was Barbarella, followed by Camelot, and The Fox. The Fox is based on a D.H. Lawrence novella. This is imdb.com’s synopsis: Sickly, chattering Jill Banford and quiet, strong Ellen March are trying, hopelessly, to run a chicken farm in Canada. A gentle but powerful man, Paul Renfield, returns and puts things in order. But his proposal of marriage to Ellen awakens the lesbianism dormant in the girls: Jill uses her weakness to make Ellen feel protective, and the women become active lesbians.

Clearly this was not The Fantastic Mr. Fox. The art for the poster is also incredible. Based on the art for the book jacket, it is symbolic, sensual, and fluid. I may have been exposed to a whole batch of nudity as a 3 year old, but I also had a crash course in beautiful imagery.

Very pretty pretty pretty

Warning or congratulations: There is some nudity above.

The first movie we see as a child leaves an indelible mark. Many of my friends cite the following: The Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, even the bizarre Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The first movie recall seeing was Barbarella at a theater on Van Ness in San Francisco. I am convinced the typographic strip scene for the titles began my love for typography. It’s interesting that Barbarella was made in 1968, the same year 2001: A Space Odyssey. 2001 is a hard-edged technologically driven vision of the future. Barbarella is soft and sexual. They share a connection to psychedelia. The final scenes of 2001, and most of Barbarella are clearly about an altered mind experience. While I love 2001, Jane Fonda’s fur lined spaceship is ingrained on my soul. If I had a spaceship and needed to spend months in space, I’d much rather have her groovy carpeted van version with the sexually ambiguous computer, over the pristine Discovery One and Hal (wait he’s sexually ambiguous also).

Pocket Pal

The Cute As A Button Doll: Fit's in your hand or pocket

I know these Cute as Button dolls are supposed to be super cute, but I find them rather disturbing. I can’t decide if they are supposed to be premature babies, or fetuses. I don’t like either idea. One of the designers at AdamsMorioka left a direct mail card for these dolls on my desk. Either they think I’ll buy them one, or I have a special love for cute dolls. Neither of these options are possible, and both options scare me. The card tells me that these dolls are not toys, but are fine collectible to be enjoyed by adults. Yes, disturbing. The card also tells me that the dolls “Are Sweet as You Please.” That’s like telling someone, “You’re just as cute as you can be.” The subtext here being, “You’re not very cute.” This line also sounds vaguely like the tagline of a slasher movie: Fetus Doll, Sweet as You Please. This may sound judgemental, and I’m glad someone is probably loving one of these dolls right now. The first movie I ever saw was Barbarella, and most of my early years were obsessed with the killer dolls who try to eat Jane Fonda.

The Cute As a Button Collection
The Cute As a Button Collection