Shout how-now to Mrs O'Leary's cow

Chicago is one of my favorite cities. Beside the great food, friendly people, and wonderful neighborhoods, several of my favorite people live there. Greg and Pat Samata, Dana Arnett, Jamie Koval, Bart Crosby, and Ric Valicenti are designers I deeply admire, and who are just plain fun to hang with. I assume it’s a Chicago thing that eliminates any snotty, diva-like behavior, and creates good down to earth attitudes.

Each year, Greg and Pat present the Cusp Conference. Cusp isn’t a design conference. It’s about big ideas. It’s been described as, “inspirational, funny, thought-provoking, eye-opening, informative, inspirational, fascinating, humbling, soothing, shocking, awesome, inspirational, unbelievable, wise, touching, smart, healthy, honest, confusing, inspirational, affirming, creative and just friggin' amazing.”

Last year, Greg invited me to talk about whatever I wanted. I’d been on the road speaking about AdamsMorioka and our ideas for so long I wanted to do something different. A couple of months before, TypeCon asked me to speak about the typography of Disneyland. I had a great time pulling this together and it was extremely well received at TypeCon. So I expanded on the idea and told Greg I wanted to talk about design at Disneyland through an optimistic lens. So far so good.

I’ve been speaking publicly for 20 years. I think I have a pretty good grasp of what an audience will respond to. Sometimes I get it wrong. When I spoke in Norfolk for AIGA Hampton Roads in Virginia, I started by talking about my family’s Virginian roots, and put up a list of family names in case anyone in the audience was a cousin. I didn’t realize the family names were the same as the street names in Norfolk. So it came off as, “Hi, I’m fancy. I’m from Beverly Hills. I go to the Academy Awards. My family is fancy. You’re not.” This was not my intention. I’m actually kind of a goof ball.

The Cusp Disneyland Design lecture wasn’t received as well as the TypeCon lecture. Now there could be several reasons why: it is a dumb lecture, I’m dumb, I came off as smug, or I looked fat. But, I had a wonderful time doing it. I had time to see Pat and Greg, and had a great lunch with Greg and Ricky Wurman. And I went to Chicago.

The Award Awards

AIGA 1962

Terry Lee Stone and I were talking about the good old days of competitions.  We both agreed that we loved all of the printed ephemera that was produced each year for either AIGA 365, or the New York Art Director’s Club Show, or Western Art Director’s Club. I know this is really, really bad. It’s not a sustainable practice, and the world is a more caring place now that we do these communications digitally. But, to be asked to design everything from the poster to the award certificate for one of these competitions was a choice project. When Lou Danziger was moving out of his studio, one of Frank Gehry’s first buildings, he called Noreen and me and asked if we wanted anything. We managed to walk away with a George Nelson H leg table, Lou’s custom wood flat files, a copy stand, and Lou’s box of awards. For 15 years, the awards been carefully archived away.

Now, they have been released and some are displayed here. I especially love the 1962 AIGA award, presumably designed by George Tscherny. The “XIX” award can be seen on the walls of Sterling Cooper on Mad Men. The green and pink NYADC club award from 1963 has the most incredible swirls. And, finally, the AIGA mailing label on the tube, I know Paul Rand designed the AIGA logo, and the multi-talented Bart Crosby refined it, but this is tempting.

ADLA as seen on Mad Men

NYADC 1963

AIGA mailing label

ADLA

AIGA 1963

AIGA 1956

AIGA 1964

CA 1963

ADLA