Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dordt Alumni in Design: Nicole Vandenberg

We're starting something new on our DC AIGA blog that features, once a month, Dordt art graduates (those who are working as designers or photographers). This may help serve to keep alumni connected to Dordt as well as connecting current students to alumni, who are practicing design. Our alumni are doing design in multi-faceted ways. For our initial piece I asked Nicole Vandenberg to send some information and work examples. — editor

Nicole Vandenberg, class of 2007

postcard design front and back

front (top) and back

Aside from the friend/family/church commitments that are my life at present, I work as a graphic designer for Preferred Nutrition, a company in Southern Ontario that distributes products like Vitamin B12 and other natural health supplement combinations exclusively to health food stores. No day is an average one and a week can be incredibly varied in both pace and content. One can be spent primarily on one large project, such as a product catalogue, while another can be made up of numerous smaller projects such as ads and newsletters.

Above are some samples of projects completed recently. As any designer will know, the challenge to create a final product that is both personally creative and fully appreciated by the company/client is often complex. However, I find there is a great level of intrigue in uncovering the final result.

In the case of the Fiddleheads card, the final result involved certain specifications that did not allow me to design it quite as I otherwise would have. That too is a constant part of a designer’s life and while some specs can be limiting, others force you to discover new ways of presenting a piece to its audience. If the opportunity was available, I would have given more white space to the front of the card. I think there are also some copy-size issues that make it a bit too busy, but I am content with the back.

Also, to give you some context to the French postcard, it is an advertisement regarding a seminar about natural alternatives to health/well being (The question on the front asks if the viewer really knows what it is that she is putting on her skin).

As an interesting side note, here's something I didn't think much about when studying graphic design as a student: Since Canada is a bilingual country, I get to design almost everything twice, first in English and then in French. The process can be a bit problematic because French copy takes up a lot more space and sometimes looks very awkward in an area that was initially designed for English.

In addition to my work as a graphic designer, I have thoroughly enjoyed re-familiarizing myself with the Greater Toronto Area since graduating from Dordt. It practically bleeds opportunity for all things art/design related. There is no end to exhibits, courses, workshops, lectures, art groups, etc. I encourage anyone on their way to graduation to seek out similar opportunities wherever you end up. Seizing these opportunities does wonders for feeding your creativity and keeping you up to speed with what others in the design world are up to as well.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Horse's Mouth: How to Look at a Picture

© 1958 Knightsbridge Films Ltd. © 2002 Criterion Collection

One of the best ways to look at art and design was actually written by English author, Joyce Cary in his novel The Horse’s Mouth (1944). Dordt’s library has two copies and the last time any of the books had been checked out was the early 1970s! Which is a pity because Cary’s work should be considered and read more. Actually, Sir Alec Guinness wrote a screenplay based on the novel and starred in the movie, made in 1958, with the same title — I’ve ordered a DVD for the library. The lead-in picture for this post is, in part, a copy of the original British movie poster that forms the re-release DVD package design for distributor Criterion. The Horse’s Mouth is the third story in a trilogy and is full of British irony, wit, and humor that is summed-up by the idiom of the title. The main character and narrator is the artist-painter, Mr. Gulley Jimson. In one scene, Jimson with his friend Coker are looking at a painting and all she can see is ‘A totty.’ ‘You don’t know what a picture is, Cokey’ says Jimson.

Jimson then explains what happens when you tell the truth and that the artist is a form of genius. Jimson (over) states, … ‘Now I know. And I’m not only a genius, I’m an artist. A son of Los’ ‘Los?’ says Cokey. ‘Los was the Prophet of the Lord,’ states Jimson, and he then goes on to quote a passage from the poem, ‘Milton,’ written in 1804, by Romantic artist, William Blake:

And the sons of Los build moments and minutes and hours
And days and months and years and ages and periods,
wondrous buildings;
And every moment has a couch of gold for soft repose,
And between every two moments stands a daughter of Beulah
To feed the sleepers on their couches with maternal care.
And every minute has an azure tent with silken veils;
Every time less than the pulsation of an artery
Is quality in its period and value to six thousand years,
For in this period the poet’s work is done.
Jimson follows this with how to look at a picture:
‘You haven’t got six thousand years this afternoon.’ Half a minute of revelation is worth a million years of know nothing.’ Who lives a million years?’ ‘A million people every twelve months. I’ll show you how to look at a picture, Cokey. Don’t look at it. Feel it with your eye. … And first you feel the shapes in the flat – the patterns, like a carpet. … And you feel it in the round. Not as if it were a picture of anyone. But a coloured and raised map. You feel all the rounds, the smooths, the cools and warms. The colors and textures. There’s hundreds of little differences all fitting in together.’
The author, by combining a portion of Blake’s poem and Jimson’s philosophy, I believe, is referring to the dimension of moments and time leading to simultaneous views of the same subject and multi-faceted vantage points. Doesn’t this sum up much of 20th century art? The complexity of Cubism per se?

I’d like to acknowledge professor Roy Behrens, University of Northern Iowa, for alerting me to this passage. Behrens, in his book, False Colors: Art, Design and Modern Camouflage cites Cary’s text, but, I needed to read the novel to find where the passage occurs and the context in which was stated.

First Trilogy, The Horse’s Mouth, copyright © 1958 Harper and Brothers. Page 90.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

René Clement exhibit at Dordt College Campus Center Art Gallery

I think one of the highlights during this past semester, at Dordt, was the visit of guest photographer, René Clement. Many of you were able to meet with René, a New York City documentary photojournalist, when he was on Campus for Justice Matters Week in April. We have reinstalled his exhibition, which is now on display at the Campus Center Art Gallery for the month of May — it’s on display for one more week — so if you’re in Sioux Center check it out.

A couple of weeks ago, René was back in the area to document the 'old world' Dutch costumes in the Orange City Tulip Festival, for his current book project. He had just come from a three-week photo documentary project in Bolivia for a Dutch magazine. He happened to stop by Dordt, for lunch, and to view the show — he took the photo above. I believe the show is successful on various levels but most of all through the photographs we can see how René works, thinks and cares compassionately about his subjects. One viewer left this comment in the register book: “Your work breaths life into otherwise nameless faces of war — stunning!”

Copyright © 2009 René Clement

The exhibit includes selected work from his West Bank/Palestinian photo essay and his Haitian conflict essay. If you would like to see more of his work (click here).

René mentions photographer James Nachtwey, Agency VII, as an inspiration for some of his work (click here). Clement’s portrait photography and documentaries have repeatedly claimed prizes in the Dutch Silver Camera competition. In 2003 Time Magazine selected his entry among the Pictures of the Year.

A native of the Netherlands, Clement, who’s a storyteller, is the co-founder of the Foundation for Photography and is a contributor to Dutch, Italian, and New York photo agencies. He has published seven books of photography and has traveled throughout the world.

Speaking of world traveler, what do you think about Anthony Bourdain’s: No Reservations?

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Adobe Product Poll Results

This week we saw a 184.6% increase in voter turnout, if only the recent California state election saw a voter turnout increase even close to that...

Anyways, 11 new people voted (or 11 of you voted twice...), the results are as follows:

Acrobat: 0 votes, 0% of the vote - no big surprise there, I guess all of you hate how Acrobat always seems to open up your pdfs when you would much rather have preview open them!

Bridge: 1 vote, 4% of the vote - I don't know too many people who use this program so...

Dreamweaver: 3 votes, 12% of the vote - I guess...?

Flash: 0 votes, 0% of the vote - big surprise here, this program just sounds like a hassle

Illustrator: 7 votes, 29% of the vote (third place!) - A bit surprised this didn't garner more votes, personally this is my favorite Adobe program, I'm trying not to take this loss personally.

InDesign: 14 votes, 58% of the vote (the majority) - Okay, if I would've known that this program was going to get so many votes I wouldn't have given it one of mine...this is probably my 3rd favorite program, so it was my third choice...too bad the rankings can't reflect that!

Lightroom: 5 votes, 20% of the vote - I'm gutted, my second favorite Adobe program scorned and thrown aside like some cheap specialty font! Come on people! How can you not love the versatility and ease of use that Lightroom offers?

Photoshop: 8 votes, 33% of the vote - Okay Photoshop is one of my least favorite programs of all time, yet it was runner up! How? This might be one of the hardest of the Adobe programs to even be decent with, there is no way that 8 of you consider this your "favorite Adobe product"!

Other: 1 vote - Professor Versluis? Is there an Adobe product I missed?

Thank you all for voting, don't forget to vote on the new poll: What is your favorite Art Movement? I do realize that the list of Art movements is by no means all-inclusive, I did leave out Post- and Neo-Impressionism, but...that's why I put (etc) after Impressionism. I know they are all unique etc, but for the sake of having a short list...bear with me. If you really feel I left something major out, just let me know.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Defining the Designer of 2015

Image © 2008 AIGA

Correlated to AIGA and the previous post — this will be of interest to both student and alumni designers as well. Please see the Designer of 2015 Next Steps article (click here). Let me know what you think, about what the piece says, regarding trends (click here) and competencies (click here). If you want to read further, check-out the paper (PDF) written by Meredith Davis (click here).

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Reminders from AIGA

Stay connected and update your contact information by logging into your online member account and updating your contact information at — This will ensure that you will receive mailings and email throughout the summer. This is a reminder to keep your contact information current as well. (you'll see My Account on the left side of the webpage)

Members urge AIGA to take long view, build a future for design, designing and designers
As you may recall, at our group meeting, on Assessment Day you responded to questions from the AIGA about how you viewed the organization from a student perspective. And since I was invited to participate in the Iowa AIGA chapter-organized roundtable on 8 April in Des Moines, I used the opportunity to bring your feedback and ideas for the organization. Please see the Insight article to see how your responses compare to others in the AIGA. Thank you for participating—the Iowa AIGA Board was impressed with what you had to say!

After School Special: Advice for Emerging Designers
Lynda Decker of Decker Design has created a great presentation that will give you helpful and valuable advice on making the transition from school to work. To view it, visit: After-School-Special.

If you’re in or near Denver this summer, perhaps consider, Image Space Object 6: Tools for Transformation, Denver, August 6–9, 2009. For more information, visit: Image Space Object. Small teams of participants and studio mentors work together to create multi-dimensional environments, human interactions and brand strategies. User-centered narratives serve as a starting place for the design of graphic, interaction, product and environmental experiences. Research, modeling, team ideation and experiential prototyping are employed throughout the three days to produce tangible final presentations that can be brought back to work and used with your design teams.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Design History: Robert Estienne (Roberti Stephani)

Photographs and article, copyright © 2009 David M. Versluis.

The photograph above is the title page and printer's mark from the 1559 edition of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion and was published and printed by Robert Estienne. This copy is in the collection of the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies at Calvin College. This copy happened to be found in a Goodwill second-hand store before it was donated to the Center. The 500th year commemoration of John Calvin’s birth is this summer (July) so it seems fitting to post something about Calvin’s primary graphic designer and printer, Robert Estienne.

Obviously, the tradition of printing and graphic design was very important in the history of the Protestant Reformation. For instance, the so-called three forms of unity of Reformed churches: the Heidelberg Catechism, the Canons of Dort (Dordt), and the Belgic confession were all printed, published, and distributed (sometimes clandestinely).

The principal author of the Belgic Confession, written in French in 1561, was Guido de Brès, a Reformed church preacher in the southern Low Countries (Belgic) who was put to death for heresy in 1566. The Confession’s form and content indicate de Brès was familiar with the Confession of the Huguenot (French Protestant) Reformed churches, published in the late 1550s, which was written mainly by John Calvin. Interestingly, de Brès, in the second article of the Belgic Confession, uses metaphors for God’s revelation in creation: is before our eyes like a beautiful book and all creatures, great and small, are as letters. Apparently de Brès and Calvin were well aware of French graphic design and printed materials being produced at the time of the sixteenth-century. The era is regarded as the golden age of French Renaissance printing technology. French typography (Claude Garamond—perfecting Roman letterforms), graphic design (Geoffroy Tory—geometric constructions of letters) and book design (Oronce Finé and Simon de Colines—visual information) were considered to be the finest on the European continent. Many French graphic designers of this period were multi-talented people: Geoffroy Tory was a philosophy lecturer and poet and Oronce Finé was a mathematics professor, artist, and author. In addition to typography, French graphic design of this period is noted for the elegant and colorful illustrations, for Books of Hours, depicting animals, birds, insects, aquatic life, flora, and fauna that adorn the capital initials and border margins of the page. These illustrations, some of which are stylized, express a Renaissance humanist interest in the natural world, yet this interest also correlates with biblical scholars rediscovering, reexamining, recovering the meaning of scripture and appreciating the abundance of God’s good creation.

However, by the middle decades of the sixteenth-century, as a result of religious conflicts, the European printing center moved from France (Paris, Lyons) to the Netherlands (Amsterdam), England, and Switzerland. One of the best French scholar printers and principal graphic designers of the period, Robert Estienne (1503–1559) was renowned as a great printer, author, and classical scholar for the intellectual insight of his editorial process. He was also acclaimed for typographic refinement and clarity of his original language Bibles, Christian texts, and printed biographies by history writer, Paolo Giovio. Estienne was affected by the threat of persecution and turmoil of the Protestant Reformation and was harassed and abused for being suspected a heretic by the Sorbonne (University of Paris) theology faculty for his Protestant views. Heretic, in this case meant that Estienne, with his linguistic expertise in Greek and Hebrew was revising the Bible that he was printing because he was discovering translation errors in the Latin Bible (the Vulgate) by comparing it to the original written language. As a result, by the early 1550s, Estienne relocated his printing firm to Geneva, Switzerland to be with John Calvin. There he reissued Calvin’s Institutes in 1553 and again in 1559. The introduction to Calvin’s Institutes, published by Westminster Press in 1960 says this about Estienne:
One of the greatest of Renaissance printers came to Geneva from Paris in 1550 and resumed there, in close association with the Geneva ministers, his lifework in the production of Bibles and religious texts that he had found it impossible to continue in France. This was Robert Estienne (Robertus Stephanus), a distinguished member of the great Estienne family of scholar printers to whom the New Learning and the Reformation owed a measureless debt. In February 1553, he brought out the finest edition of the Institutio that Calvin had yet seen, a folio volume 13-1/2 by 8-3/4 inches, almost faultlessly printed in handsome type. It contains 441 pages.
The woodcut illustrated above, in close-up, was the printer’s mark (colophon) of Robert Estienne’s printing firm and usually appeared on the title page of his larger books. As is the case with many printers’ marks during the Renaissance the marks could be esoteric and yet convey great meaning that needed an explanation. Estienne’s mark has a double meaning. On the one hand it represents the metaphor of the ‘Olive Tree and Branches’ as told by the apostle Paul in Romans 11:20. The Latin phrase in the balloon banner, ‘Noli Altum Sapere,’ translates as ‘Do Not Become Proud.’ With this motto, Estienne is suggesting that we, as Christians, cultivate a spirit of humility in the face of excessive dogmatism. For Protestant Reformers, Saint Paul was regarded as the true Christian Church authority (other than Christ Jesus himself), rather than the Roman Catholic clergy. In addition, according to Estienne expert Elizabeth Armstrong as cited by Fred Schreiber in his book, 'The Estiennes' (1982, p. 249), the surname Estienne, is French for the Greek noun stepanos (Stephen in English)—which was the name of the olive branch crown wreath and the prize given to ancient Greek athletes for outstanding performance and excellence. So the mark, being a play on the word Estienne (stephanos), may be referring to the high standards for Robert Estienne’s scholarly work, printing craft, graphic design, and aesthetic quality.

However, we don’t know for sure who the figure in the mark is. He's probably Saint Paul—or could he possibly be a Greek or Roman humanist philosopher? I believe it's very plausible that the figure could be that of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr who was stoned to death for speaking the scriptural truths about Christ Jesus. In addition to reinforcing the name Estienne (Stephani), in the illustration, you will notice stones near the feet of the figure, which is traditionally associated with images of the Saint Stephen. However, in this case, the symbols are much more subtle and natural in contrast to typical Roman Catholic iconography.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Eugene Masselink piece mentioned in Design Observer

Thanks to Michael Bierut, an editor and a founder of the online journal Design Observer, who placed our post about Eugene Masselink in the Observed column on Wednesday (5.13).

Mr. Bierut is also a partner at Pentagram, New York.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

If Fonts Were People

I stumbled upon a couple of funny typography-related videos today.

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the results are in!

This weeks poll "What is your favorite font?" only had 13 votes, which was 2 more votes than the previous poll, but it is by no means a very comprehensive survey of any sort of demographic.

The results:

Arial: 0 votes - no surprise there, that's like saying you prefer 'Marshmallow Matey's' to 'Lucky Charms'

Goudy: 0 votes (Do you guys even know what font this is?) I guess I should have put "Goudy Old Style" but that took up too much is probably my 3rd favorite font.

: 3 votes which was 23% of the vote - a decent showing, one of those votes was mine, I'm not afraid to say it.

Helvetica: 5 votes which was 38% of the vote - enough for a win! All you brown-nosers hoping for brownie points in Graphics 3 next semester! And professor Verlsuis I assume...

Tahoma: 0 votes

Verdana: 1 vote which was 7% of the vote - probably stole Tahoma's vote.

Papyrus: 1 vote - Scott! This was not a funny joke. I put it in the poll as a joke...and you voted for it as a joke. Brilliant! Unless it was one of you Graphics 2 people...shame on your family!

Other: 3 votes - If you voted for other, then please enlighten us as to where your vote would have gone, had more fonts been up. Unless that font was "Bleeding Cowboy" then you should tell me who you are so that I can block you from this blog.

A new poll will be up later today, be sure to cast your vote!

Edit: Please vote for your top 3 products, unless you only want to vote for one, which is perfectly fine! But just let's not get out of hand and vote for every single one. Because we all know that 99% of you have never used 'Flash' or 'Bridge.'

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Design History: Eugene Masselink, a multi-talented designer

Photograph courtesy of Douglas M. Steiner, © Copyright 2009. Used with permission. Article, copyright © 2009 David M. Versluis, all rights reserved.

The graphic designer of the 1955 Taliesin West stationery system was Eugene Masselink. Not only was Masselink a fine artist, he was also a fine graphic designer. So when I saw his Taliesin stationery, like that pictured above, in an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago several years ago I thought that it was very clever, particularly the way a simple standard letter size sheet is turned from a traditional portrait to a horizontal landscape format. The proportions of the margins especially inspired me, and the asymmetrical arrangement, structure, and placement of the typed letter, logotype, and Wright’s red square trademark was very modern. When the letter is opened it delightfully unfolds like a miniature Japanese screen. I also enjoy how the #10 envelope correlates the design elements of the letterhead to form a coherent package.

Eugene Masselink (1910-1962) was born in South Africa but his family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan shortly thereafter and he grew up there. Masselink came to the Taliesin Fellowship in Spring Green, Wisconsin in 1933 as a charter member – the Fellowship being Wright’s school for working apprentices. He never left the Fellowship and served his entire career as Frank Lloyd Wright’s right-hand person by handling practically all facets of business details for Wright’s Taliesin office. Masselink, a very hard worker, was totally devoted and dedicated to Wright’s architectural practice and was Wright’s personal secretary and later after Wright’s death, in 1959, became secretary-treasurer of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

In the book, Frank Lloyd Wright–Letters to Apprentices (1982) editor Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, writes about Masselink this way:

… Trained in [fine art at Ohio State University], when he came to Taliesin he studied architecture directly with Mr. Wright. In the subsequent years he was commissioned to make many murals, [folding screens,] and paintings – often for the houses of Mr. Wright’s clients.

Originally based on Mr. Wright’s concept of rectilinear and geometric forms, the work Gene developed and carried forward in the art of abstraction was supremely creative. He helped to establish the Taliesin Press, designed our stationery, invitations, programs, and printed the Taliesin Square Papers, a group of essays and addresses written by Mr. Wright.

He had a sonorous baritone voice, with a fine sense of musicianship to go with it, and he participated in the musical activities that were and still are so much a part of the life at Taliesin.

Everyone who knew him thought the world of him; his humor was ever present, his wit a great delight. Following his untimely death in [July] 1962 [he died suddenly of a heart attack while at work], at the age of 51, Mrs. Wright wrote in her book, The Roots of Life: “Dedicated to the memory of Eugene Masselink. There was no conflict between his faith and his life.” (page 22)

I find this epitaph by Mrs. Wright to be a profoundly Christian reformational statement.

If you're interested, here's a 'youtube' video link to A Letter by Eugene Masselink, ca. 1936 – being read by Effi Casey at a recent Taliesin Fellowship gathering:

I’d like to thank Douglas Steiner who gave me permission to post his photograph of the Taliesin Stationery. Here’s a link to his web site:

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Binary Designers? (2)

The graphic image above is from a self-promotion identity design and portfolio by Caryn Nydam from Modesto, California. This week, Caryn will be a 2009 Dordt College art major graduate with both fine art and graphic design emphases.

Earlier last month, I posted Binary Designers? in which I received an important suggestion from a Dordt graduate who's practicing graphic design. So, I'm re-posting it in more of its entirety in order to give some context. The following excerpt is from a larger paper titled Creational Graphic Design … my intent with a more current post will allow those who want to comment a chance to do so.

As a side, this paper will be presented at the CIVA 2009 Biennial Conference this summer at Bethel University, Saint Paul, Minnesota. The excerpt reads:

Binary Designers?
At Dordt College students interested in graphic design are art majors with a graphic design emphasis. That means, that in addition to taking four dedicated graphic design courses, students also take some required studio fine art courses, a business marketing course, as well as other studio art and art history electives along with a rigorous liberal arts core curriculum. Often times, a graphic design student will say, “I like graphic design, but what I really like is studio art (painting, drawing, photography, ceramics, or sculpture) — fine art allows me to be self-expressive.” When students become juniors and seniors I offer them an individual study in order to develop their portfolios. Together, we begin the process of systematic exploration and review their body of work from all of their studio classes and determine where their work is strong and what areas need improvement. Some students seem to apologize and ask me “Can I include fine art with graphic design in my portfolio?” “Are clients interested?” “Some are,” I respond and further add that although art and design are different they are related. The choice between the two is actually a false dilemma because there is so much common ground.

[I enjoy seeing students who put as much passion into their graphic design work as they do their fine art work.]

Why do students seem to have the attitude of the two art sub-cultures? Why this tension? The perception of fine art as more noble than design (graphic design), is a Romantic notion going back to the Renaissance, a notion that has found it’s way to today’s North American college campuses—Christian colleges included. Does this attitude come from the academic liberal arts tradition? Where do the lines of art and design cross? Again, Calvin Seerveld starts to provide an answer with his working definition of art: “a well-crafted artifact or act distinguished by an imaginative quality whose nature is to allude to more meaning than what is visible/audible/written/sensed….”

How does Seerveld’s art definition work in design? Actually, graphic design, web design, interactive design can be considered artifacts or acts of communication distinguished by an imaginative quality that is visible/audible/written/sensed. The question is, “How does the nature of design allude to more meaning than what meets the senses?”

This question considers that a common area of art and design is the nuance, mood, and meaning of a thing, which suggests intellect and self-expression—the presence of the designer or artist expressed in the artifact. Internationally acclaimed designer, Rick Valicenti, (Chicago), discusses his work this way: “… my personal work, which happens right alongside my professional work, helps to inform all of my commissions. Hence, all the work of this office begins to reveal a real human presence, which is less formulaic, is more like fine art and is expressive. Design, art, self-expression, my being, and my self-perception determine my behavior. If I can use my artifacts, the things that I make, as evidence of who I am and realizing that, my artifacts can actually reflect my sense of joy, curiosity, and optimism, this can be authentic and effective communication on behalf of a client.” Valicenti further adds something that should be of great interest for art and design students:

Your presence can’t help but be reflected in your work, for instance. If we limit our thought then the experiences we have are limited as a result. If we enter design with interest, odds are what comes out of that process of making and thinking about design will be interesting. If we enter design with greed, what’s going to come out is greed. If we enter with disrespect, disrespect comes out and the same can be true if we enter a process with respect—then the artifact is respectful. If we enter with an artful spirit, then what comes out is something quite artful and imaginative. But sadly, if we enter the design process with formula, what might come out is formula and that’s not a good thing especially when we can put it on press and millions of copies get done; or put it onto the web and anyone who wants can go there. And if they encounter formula disguised as communication—I should say, communication contaminated with formula—it’s not a good thing to send any impersonal messages from one person to another anywhere in the world.

I believe that the next destination for design to aspire to be is one that transcends style—where communication really does reach out. Perhaps with design being so much in service to business and so much of a commodified practice, in many respects it has lost sight of a kind of design that really does communicate, that really does behave in compelling fashion. In order to do that the missing ingredient might just be the presence of the communicator in the act of communication …
Most art students feel an affinity with Valicenti’s expressionistic/emotional approach because most art education programs (Christian and non-Christian) promote self-expression. By contrast, other designers, such as the modernist Bauhaus teacher, Josef Albers, have questioned this self-expressive approach to design as self-indulgent. According to Eric Gibson, “Albers distrusted expressionism, believing it to be egocentric and geared mostly toward effects rather than insight.”

However, while Albers makes a good point, I appreciate Valicenti’s emotive approach because I know that his body of work is filled with creative and playful insight. Valicenti’s work is also indicative of serving a public through a rigorous, disciplined, and self-critical design process that in my view should be a strong component of any art and design training.

It is possible that graphic design, like art, can express, as Nicholas Wolterstroff says, “the ultimate concerns (in case they have them) of their makers.” and I believe this is what Valicenti is saying, as well. With this in mind, perhaps it is beneficial to compare the perspectives of Valicenti’s emotion and Albers’s judgment with the strong emotional content of the biblical Psalms. This is what John Calvin wrote about emotional content in the preface to his 1557 Commentary on the Book of Psalms:
I have been accustomed to call this book, I think not inappropriately, “An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;” for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated. … It is by perusing these inspired compositions, that men will be most effectually awakened to a sense of their maladies, and, at the same time, instructed in seeking remedies for their cure. In a word, whatever may serve to encourage us when we are about to pray to God, is taught us in this book.…

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