Time after Time

Marianne Brandt, student at the Bauhaus, 1931

When someone asks me, "With all the different technologies, which one is the most important for a designer to learn?" If I were clever I'd answer, "flash." But I'm too honest and, of course, explain that good concepts and smart thinking will always be more important than the newest tools. Every generation believes they are the hippest chosen people of all time. The old people are clueless and totally square. It's good this happens, otherwise, culture would stop evolving and we'd be trapped in 1892.


Students and Professors at the Bauhaus, 1920s and 1930s

Images of students at the Bauhaus in the 1920s and 30s show super groovy people, strange art people, and tortured hairstyles. The same is true for Black Mountain College in the 1930s. Cool design students talking about design and hanging out. When I was at CalArts, we were certain we were so much cooler than anyone over thirty. We took artsy Polaroids and did live drawing from new wave models. Today, at ArtCenter, I can see myself through the eyes of my students, a square dude with odd plaid shirts and khakis. This may be true, but DO NOT mistake them for Dockers. They're Brooks Brothers and J. Crew., which is probably just as un-hip.


Students at Black Mountain College, 1930s and 1940s

Ray Johnson, Black Mountain College, 1945


CalArts, 1980s


ArtCenter, 2010s

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.

1992 in Black and White

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

While I think wikipedia is a swell tool sometimes, it is not an educational substitute. Each term in my foundation class at Art Center I give an assignment that requires research. This term the students returned with presentations on politics and photography. It's obvious which ones are just reading from wikipedia: "Social documentary photography is the recording of humans in their natural condition with a camera. Often it also refers to a socially critical genre of photography dedicated to showing the life of underprivileged or disadvantaged people." My response, "And...?"

I used to assign a film poster which required watching a movie outside of the class room. How hard is that? It's not reading Joseph Conrad. Then I found that people were only watching snippets on YouTube. So now, we watch the whole movie in class. This makes me feel like Bad Teacher.

In contrast to this is the enormous energy and effort that Robert Cha put into this publication. Robert worked on the Fires in Our Time book as an independent study with me. When he mentioned the 1992 L.A. Riots as a subject I expected a nice 18 page booklet with big headlines and photos. Instead, Robert created a relentlessly dense document that reports and deconstructs the riots. 300 pages of interviews, newspaper reports, television, and first hand accounts. This enormous amount of information would be enough, but Robert then applied a design solution that did not try to aestheticize the issue. His book dogmatically sticks to a rigid rule system. Each type of information is assigned a typeface, size, and position. The final result are pages that feel like elements slamming against each other, none willing to compromise.

Many issues and multiple viewpoints collided in Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict. The riots were more than one thing. To minimize them and assign a pithy one line answer is a disservice to the complexity of the ongoing problem. Robert's book is the best example of this put into concrete form.

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

 

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

Robert Cha, Fires in Our Time, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

The Young and The Restless

LA LA LAND from | Yero | on Vimeo.

It’s that time of year again when a new batch of designers lands in the real world. I’ve been told that approximately 30,000 design students graduate each year and enter the market. This sounds terrifying but shouldn’t be. The reality, as in most of life, is that the cream will rise to the top. Out of that huge number, there is a much smaller group dedicated and really talented designers. I was worried as I approached graduation. Lorraine Wild gave me this advice, “if you’re good, willing to work hard, and keep learning, you’ll do well. Nobody good slips through the cracks.” It turns out that this was true; short of those people I know who self-destructed by smoking pot all day.

Here, then, is a slate of amazing designers who graduated last Saturday from Art Center. I know each of them, and can vouch not just for their abilities, but also for their dedication and willingness to work.

However, just to make this clear, I am not an employment service. The last time I posted a group of grads, one of them sent me an email clarifying that she would only work in Los Angeles or San Francisco and would not accept less than $50,000 salary. To this I sent a simple reply, “Not my problem.” Yes, I too can be mean.

 

Josh Finklea - http://joshfinklea.info Teodros Hailye - http://teodros.tv Tyler Hamilton - http://www.tylerhamiltondesign.com/#!home|mainPage Ben Hickman - http://benhickmandesign.com James Ihira - http://cargocollective.com/jamesihira Kevin Lam - http://kevinclam.com Scott Langer - http://work.scottlanger.com Chanmi Grace Lee - http://chanmigrace.info Chul Lee - http://chulgrafik.com Christian Morin - http://mdistrict.net Tomo Ogino - http://tomoogino.com Aldis Ozolins - http://aldisozolins.com Yerem Tagvoryan - http://yero.tv

 

Ominbus Film Festival from chul lee on Vimeo.

 

SyFy Summer Identity from T on Vimeo.

This is the Day, Your Life Will Surely Change.

You've been reading some old letters --

You smile and think how much you've changed.

All the money in the world

Couldn't buy back those days.

These are some of the lyrics to This Is The Day by The The. I was thinking about this as I was cleaning out the flat files at home and came across some of my student work. Unfortunately, I found that I haven’t changed. I might be a little smarter and definitely have a bigger waist size, but damn if those colors and the whole attitude looks the same. This means either I have a strong and consistent vision, or I have one idea that I keep banging out repeatedly.

I made these projects in 1986, my last year at CalArts. Yes, they have little new wave in them, but that was what you did in 1986. I rather like the Olympics poster, but the Neo Youth project is scary. I remember it was a proposal for a monument to Los Angeles. This was the idea: L.A. is obsessed with youth. It needs a monument, rather than building a big statue, create an organization of young people who would travel around town and help people. The more good work they did, the more medals they would get. This would take the place of the latest Guess jeans as a status symbol since everyone between 14-18 would be in uniform.

Yes, you may be saying, this sounds quite a bit like Nazi Youth, Young Pioneers of China, or the USSR’s Communist Youth Organization (Komsomol). I may be rather dense at times, but this was part of the concept. If being young were a religion in Los Angeles, go all the way. Of course, now I realize that I was wrong; the uniforms were probably too trendy.

Living in the 80s

Poster, Spring Dance Ensemble, 1985

I’m often asked to bring in my student work by my students at Art Center. I went to CalArts from 1982–1986, so the work tends toward the New Wave. I was fortunate to have some great instructors including Lou Danziger, Lorraine Wild, April Greiman, and Roland Young. Here are a few of my projects. Now, remember, this was when type was generated by an old Merganthaler VIP photo-type machine, or by letterpress, and you needed to make giant negatives and print posters either as a slikscreen or Diazo print (blueline). So they ain’t as purty and slick as the fancy pants digital printed student work today. And I walked ten miles in the snow to get to school after milking the cows.

Poster, 4 Australian Poets, 1986

Poster, Phil Garner Visiting Artist, 1986