Paper Pornography

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.”

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/ 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.

People on 'ludes should not drive

I think about the concept of alternative universes more than I should. When I make decision, I consider the quantum theory that an alternate of me makes a separate decision that branches into a different timeline. The moment I am most concerned about is the one when I was 17 and decided to respond, “No, thank you” to my acceptance to Harvard, and “yes, thank you” to CalArts. Somewhere in an alternate reality, I took the other path, graduated from Harvard, and then from the JFK School of Government with a masters in public policy. I might be a Senator in the 18th dimension. But, I took the other road. I deal with clients that ask four or five times a day, “Are you sure this is right. In your professional opinion?”

However, I do get to design cool things like this skate deck for AIGA Colorado’s Bordo Bello event. My good friend Charles Carpenter asked me to design a deck again for this great cause. This gave me the chance to highlight some profound quotes from Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Yes, if you haven’t seen it, it is better than Citizen Kane. I might be missing out on being called Senator Adams, but I get to immortalize the classic line, “All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.”


Living above Sunset

If you decide it’s too hot to sit outside this weekend, watch Clueless and then Emma. I will admit I’m shallow I love Clueless. Like Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High, it beautifully captures high school life in Beverly Hills. Years after seeing it, I was on a plane watching Jane Austen’s Emma, and I thought, “Boy, this is just like Clueless.” Of course, it’s the other way around. Heckerling based the characters and plot on Austen’s novel. Following the storyline of Emma, Cher works behind the scenes as a matchmaker, and caretaker of her father. She does a makeover on a new student, and like Emma, advises her to stay away from the man she should be with because he is beneath her social position. If you watch closely, you’ll notice how each plot point is updated and translated into 1990s Beverly Hills. Oh, and if you get Emma, get the 2009 BBC miniseries. There’s something cloying about the 1996 version.

I Know That Dude

Last night I was a guest on Ryan McGovern’s great video chat program Design Chat. He talked about BurningSettlersCabin and how great it was that it brought design to a broader audience. So today I’m going to disappoint him and drop down to my real level.

For those of you too young, or too totally un-groovy to not know Fast Times at Ridgemont High, you must get it immediately. Now some of you may be tilting your head and thinking, “This confirms it. Sean Adams is truly vapid.” But, don’t knock it until you try it. Fast Times is genius. Amy Heckerling directed it, Cameron Crowe wrote it, and the cast includes Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, and Ray Walston.

I realized recently that I’ve become Mr. Hand. Mr. Hand was the hard-core history and nemesis to stoner Jeff Spicoli. When I was in high school, I was the jerk who sat in the back of the room, talked too much, and made fun of people. Now when I teach, I’m the one that is saying, “Stop going home, getting stoned, and huffing. Go to the library.” After re-watching Fast Times, I’ve decided to force people who bring food to class to share it with everyone. It also drives me nuts when I’m lecturing or doing a crit and students are “taking notes” on their computer. I’m now going to sneak up and grab the computer and read their open email or texts to the class. I know they’re all stoned, and I’m sure their email will include directions on how to make an apple bong, or what glue to sniff.