Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dordt Alumni in Design: Rick Hoogeveen

I graduated from Dordt in 2002 as an art major emphasizing fine arts and graphic design.

Here’s a fun little timeline about my first year after Dordt:
Sent out a number of resumes throughout my senior year and made a lot of “cold calls” without much success before graduating in May. Found out about a Team Leader position in the art department at The Mitographers, Inc. in Sioux Falls, South Dakota through a local staffing service, applied, interviewed and was hired. Moved to Sioux Falls on Saturday, June 8 and started my job June 10, 2002. The department was made up of four people including me. One team member had already put in her two-week’s notice the week before I started so she left soon after I started. I married my college sweetheart in mid September. The second team member from my department stayed on board until around October, but then decided to pursue his childhood dream of working in the movie industry. I then had the task of trying to train two new hires in late October to learn a job that I was still very much learning myself. The third and final original member of the department had made plans with his wife that when they were ready to start a family, he was going to be a stay at home dad and do freelance graphic design from home as well. So he was done working in my department at the end of December. So six months after I started I had gotten married and I had a brand new department! Quite the first year on my first job out of college!

I am still the Team Leader of the art department at The Mitographers, Inc., a printing facility located in an industrial park area north of the airport in Sioux Falls. Screen-printing is our main business but we have also gotten into and grown in the digital printing category as well in recent years. Our screen printing presses allow us to print large quantities of decals for machinery. The majority of our customers are OEM companies in the agricultural, industrial and lawn and turf sectors. Our digital presses have been helpful in allowing us to provide very low quantity orders to our customers when it would have been much more costly to try to print small runs on screen presses. Our large format digital presses also allow us to print large banners and many other materials that don’t work as well or fit in our screen presses like the ones shown here:

Many of the decals we print are safety or informational labels; ones the OEMs are required by law to have on their machines for the customer’s protection, like these:

We serve a variety of other customers on a custom basis as well. Here’s an example of a decal:

Read More......

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Quotations on creativity—Saul Bass

Portrait of Saul Bass from the Design Museum. Bass’ second quote about the fine line between failure and creativity is particularly interesting.

“A brainstorming session is one in which a group of people try to pool their imagination, operating on all of the facts they can summon up and…they allow themselves to toy with any idea (however foolish), in the hope it may suggest something to someone else in the group and, in the end, snowball into a useful idea.”

“…yet failure is built into creativity…the creative act involves this element of ‘newness’ and ‘experimentalism,’ then one must expect and accept the possibility of failure…”

Read More......

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Stereoscopic Vision: “The Face of Another” (1966) by Hiroshi Teshigahara from the Criterion Collection

The Psychiatrist, Dr. Hira (Mikijirô Hira) and patient, Mr. Okuyama (Tatsuya Nakadai) with homage to the Cubist’s technique of frontal and profile simultaneous views.

Hiroshi Teshigahara based his ultra mannerist and expressionistic art-house film on the novel by Kōbō Abe. The film is extraordinary because it seems each frame is very thoughtfully composed and realized through bold photography, which is aesthetically stunning. The film’s impact relies on careful observation of details and juxtaposed images characterized by similarity and vivid contrasts. The film’s wonderful set designs were developed by the collaboration of Metabolism architect, Arata Isozaki and art director, Masao Yamazaki. Throughout the film one is attuned to the surroundings, ambiance, and visual design, which are especially dominant and striking, particularly in the set design of the doctor’s clinic.

The design and direction of the film graphically highlights the visual elements of textures, patterns, repetitions, rhythms, and negative and positive space. The set designer’s use of mirrors, triangulated glass cages and partitions often form images that expose reflections, echoes, duplicates, doubling, and reveal multiple views of the actors. Thematically, the effect of these multiple perspectives alludes to the fluctuation of one’s memory and identity and the binary self. According to James Quandt in his video essay about the film, the central theme of the film is that while the characters see themselves in the mirror proves they still exist, they don’t always like what they see.

Quandt further explains that the filmmaker, Teshigahara, who was educated as an art student has expressed his adoration of mid-twentieth century contemporary art, specifically the work of Dalí, Ernst, Picasso, Pollock, and Mondrian. Appreciation for visual art and design is very apparent in the film’s iconography.

Quandt explains: “The theme of unmoored identity and fragmented consciousness finds its equivalent in the opening images of isolated limbs and in the truncated, neocubist shots of lips, fingers, back of the head that introduce Machiko Kyo as the wife. The mirror imagery so prevalent in Abe’s work, derived in part from an ancient Japanese origin myth, gets refracted in the film’s insistent images of glass.”

Interestingly, viewing the movie reminded me of a passage in Roy Behren’s book, False Colors: Art, Design and Modern Camouflage (1), in which he discusses stereoscopic vision by describing Don Quixote and Sancho Panza as stereoscopic models. Behrens writes, “Viewed separately, they themselves do not make tropes. Instead, the author [Cervantes], who makes them happen by presenting simultaneously two divergent points of view, and by those who read the novel, who recreates those sort-crossings in the process of reading, makes the metaphors.” Behren’s goes on to quote Michel Foucault, which seems to relate hauntingly to The Face of Another. Foucault says in his book, The Order of Things…, “Don Quixote is the first modern work of literature, because in it we see the cruel reason of identities and differences make endless sport of signs and similitudes…[the madman] is the man who is alienated in analogy. He takes things for what they are not, and people one for another; he cuts his friends and recognizes complete strangers; he thinks he is unmasking when, in fact, he is putting on a mask…he is unaware of Difference.” (2)

  1. Behrens, Roy R. False Colors: Art, Design and Modern Camouflage. Dysart, IA: Bobolink Books, 2002. 206. Print.
  2. Foucault, Michel. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. New York: Vintage Books, 1973. 48-49. Print.

Read More......

Friday, July 23, 2010

Quotations on creativity—Sidney Geist

American sculptors George Spanenta and Sydney Geist (center) working on sculpture in Paris, 1949. Photograph credit: Dmitri Kessel, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images/© Time Inc.

“The invention or creativity that new students often manifest is illusory and largely indebted to the stimulation of the instructors. Too many instructors are satisfied with this without taking into account the predicament of the student when the stimulation is removed.” —Sidney Geist, sculptor and writer

Read More......

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quotations on creativity—Gertrude Stein

Portrait of Gertrude Stein, with American flag as backdrop (1935 January 4)
Photographer: Carl Van Vechten
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Van Vechten Collection, reproduction number LC-USZ62-103680

Graphic design students as well as writers may find this quote, by American expatriate writer/author Gertrude Stein, an interesting model for practice:

… ‘You will write … if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery, which is to say the creation must take place between the pen and the paper, not before in a thought, or afterwards in a recasting. Yes, before in a thought, but not in careful thinking. It will come if it is there and you will let it come, and if you have anything you will get a sudden creative recognition. You won’t know how it was, even what it is, but it will be creation if it came out of the pen and out of you and not out of an architectural drawing of the thing you are doing … I can tell how important it is to have that creative recognition. You cannot go into the womb to form the child; it is there and makes itself and comes forth whole—and there it is and you have made it and felt it, but it has come itself—and that is creative recognition. Of course you have a little more control over your writing than that; you have to know where you want to get; but when you know that, let it take you and if it seems to take you off the track don’t hold back, because that is perhaps where instinctively you want to be and if you hold back and try to be always where you have been before, you will go dry’ …

Quote found in “The Uses of the Unconscious in Composing” by Janet Emig (1964), 7-8. In her essay, Emig cites her source as: John Hyde Preston, “A Conversation with Gertrude Stein,” in Brewster Ghiselin, The Creative Process (New York, 1962), 159-160.

Emig, Janet A. “The Uses of the Unconscious in Composing.” JSTOR: College Composition and Communication, Vol. 15, No. 1, Composition as Art. JSTOR, Feb. 1964. Published by: National Council of Teachers of English. Web. 21 July 2010.

Read More......

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Matter Anthology v.01 is available for preorder from Shechem Press.

The Matter Anthology is imaginative theology with artistic expression. Cover by Rebekah Wilkins-Pepiton.

This special anthology, which is a compilation of essays, poetry, and images that look at ideas of creative theology brings together presentations from last fall’s Matter ’09 Conference held in Austin, Texas. Subject matter of the conference was “Christian Relationships”: our relationship with God (Hebrews 12), our relationship with the church (Hebrews 13), and our relationship with the world (Romans 12).

To give a sense of the interesting content, included in the book is an essay by Julie Clawson titled, “This Is My Body — Nourishment, Sustainability, and Sacrifice as Response to Eucharist.” There’s also an essay by Thomas Turner, along with poetry by Kevin Meaux and Bill Mallonee, visual art, and drama.

I consider it an honor to have some of my pieces from the “Coram Deo” series included in this publication.

Peter Rollins, who was the key speaker at the conference, wrote the foreword to the anthology:

“When theology falls into the hands of the poet, something profound takes place. We can find that through the theological dis-course we come into contact with ourselves with all the difficulties and possibilities that entails. Through ideas like Creation, Fall, Salvation, Eucharist, Heaven, and Hell we come face to face with what it means to be human. This collection of essays, images, and poetry represents an attempt to put theology back into the hands of the dreamers. To give it back again to those who would speak lies in order to reveal the deepest, most transformative truths.”

As a side, I participated at the conference mainly because I’m interested in the emerging church movement in relation to postmodern culture. My goal was to listen carefully to the presenters in order to discern, unmistakably, what the Holy Spirit is revealing to us by those engaged in the emerging church.

In 2007 a good piece entitled “Five Streams of the Emerging Church” was posted by Scot McKnight in Christianity Today, which discusses, as he says, “Key elements of the most controversial and misunderstood movement in the church today.” McKnight states:

“Consider this quote from an Irish emerging Christian, Peter Rollins, author of How (Not) to Speak of God (Paraclete, 2006): ‘Thus orthodoxy is no longer (mis)understood as the opposite of heresy but rather is understood as a term that signals a way of being in the world rather than a means of believing things about the world.’”

In other words, how a person lives is of greater significance than what one believes.
It’s all about one who practices the words of Jesus (Matt. 7:24-27).

With this said, how does the validity of the “emerging church movement” compare to the idea of the “true church?” As one of the great Reformed creeds, the Belgic Confession explains, the “true church” is characterized by: preaching of the Word, observing the sacraments, and practicing church discipline.

With this quote in mind I’m reminded of Richard Mouw’s article, “How to be Catholic” which is published in The Banner, July 2010. Dr. Mouw writes: “As a Calvinist, I want to be guided by the idea that it is important to strive to be a “true church.” But I also know that I cannot draw the boundaries along strictly denominational—or even theological—lines.”

This is good advice for discernment of the Spirit and the prophetic nature of the emerging church movement.

Read More......

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How do we approach teaching web and interactive design?

Mr. Brad Weed of Microsoft presented, via his PC equipped web cam, a recorded informal talk about software development. Paul Berkbigler is in the foreground.

Under the auspices of AIGA Nebraska, “Small Talk #2” occurred last Friday, July 9. Although attendance was small, the gathering proved to be a productive regional colloquium for design educators. Mr. Paul Berkbigler ably led the meeting and Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska hosted the event.

Discussion and thoughts that came from the meeting were:

How are we incorporating web, interactive, motion, and mobile media design into existing design curriculum?

Decide the most effective way to communicate a message and then implement with media best suited to convey that message. In other words, a thoughtful designer should ask whether it’s best to utilize a web site when actually a printed piece would suffice to send a message to somebody or to send something as a message — and vice versa.

To reinforce the point: Paul suggested reviewing the resource materials by Leslie Jensen-Inman titled, “Elevate Web Design at the University Level." The import of her ideas is perhaps best stated in her biography: “She is an advocate for holistic creative solutions. Her diverse background gives her a unique perspective on teaching career development and professional practices.”

As educators we need to continue teaching hierarchy as a fundamental visual communication principle. Think of hierarchy of visual elements as remaining constant as media changes.

For some clarity about hierarchy, the order of import, here’s a passage from Graphic Design: The New Basics by authors, Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips:
In interaction design, menus, texts, and images can be given visual order through placement and consistent styling, but the user often controls the order in which information is accessed. Unlike a linear book, interactive spaces feature multiple links and navigation options. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) articulate the structure of a document separately from its presentation so that information can be automatically reconfigured for different output devices, from desktop computer screens to mobile phones, PDAs, kiosks, and more. A different visual hierarchy might be used in each instance.

The average computer desktop supports a complex hierarchy of icons, applications, folders, menus, images, and palettes–empowering users, as never before, to arrange, access, edit, and order vast amounts of information–all managed through a flexible hierarchy controlled and customized by the user.

As technology allows ever-greater access to information, the ability of the designer to distill and make sense of the data glut gains increasing value.
Try to avoid thinking of graphic design as only knowing and possessing the application software, which obviously is in constant change and flux. To explain this point, Mr. Brad Weed presented via his PC equipped with a web cam, a recorded informal and friendly talk about software development. Mr. Weed is the partner group manager for Windows Live product line at Microsoft. In addition, Brad is a national board member of the AIGA.

Weed advocated an attitude of always learning not just for the sake of utility but also as service and calling. Faculty need to work hard at being current by knowing and understanding the applicability of new media.

From the standpoint of design education, teach design students to:
  • Think of design as utilizing repeatable formats
  • Build on skills as a generalist
  • Approach the design process with the “play” principle
How we’re handling requests for pro bono work involving student designers?

This question will possibly be the focus of a future / subsequent blog piece. However, here’s one point that was discussed, “Design an integral curriculum by developing projects that, when applicable, collaborate with various departments on campus.”

Mr. Paul Berkbigler, Director of Education for AIGA Nebraska and principal of
P.Berkbigler Design & Illustration in Lincoln, Nebraska. Paul has taught graphic design at Concordia University Nebraska in Seward.

Mr. Jim Wolf, President AIGA Nebraska and graphic design instructor at Metropolitan Community College, Omaha, Nebraska.

Ms. Becky Meyers, graphic design instructor at Mid-Plains Community College, McCook, Nebraska.

Mr. Phil Schimonitz, graphic design instructor, Northeast Community College, Norfolk, Nebraska.

Mr. David Versluis, professor of art (graphic design) at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa.

Read More......

Sunday, July 11, 2010

letter spacing (kerning)

Like a team of archaeologists, carpenters uncovered this hand-lettered sign on a building undergoing renovation in Sioux Center, Iowa. The piece was probably made for an auto service station back in the 1940s or early 50s or perhaps as early as the 30s.

Seeing it reminded us a book by Ralph Douglass titled, “Calligraphic Lettering with Wide Pen & Brush” published by Watson-Guptill in 1949.

Here’s a passage found on page twenty about letter spacing that still seems current and appropriate for digital typography:
Spacing is not a matter of mechanics but rather of feeling and taste. The line or page of hand lettering should be so spaced as to present an even tone. If letters are set mechanically and spaced equidistantly, the effect is uneven and bad[.]

For decorative purposes letters are sometimes spread out, but the effect does not promote legibility.

For even appearance and maximum legibility, the white space within and around the letters must be considered and weighed as in any other kind of all-over design. Note again that the average space between words is approximately the width of the small o.

To illustrate and implement good spacing of letters within the words, consider strokes as follows:

The greatest distance is left between straight strokes.

A curved stroke next to a straight one is a little closer.

Two curved strokes are still closer.

Two points are placed as close together as possible.

A point or curve can be tucked under.

Read More......

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Go “Or-on-ya”

Congratulations to World Cup finalists Spain and the Netherlands.

Read More......

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Progress before precedent — the relevance of prairie style architecture in Grinnell, Iowa

Ricker House (1911) designed by Walter Burley Griffin, Grinnell, Iowa (owned by Grinnell College): West façade symmetry. (photographs by Versluis)

Perhaps the economic recession/depression of 1893 was just a very faint memory. But, by 1900, according to architectural historian Professor Paul Kruty, a group of young Chicago architects with offices in Steinway Hall started to collectively practice progressive architecture. These architectural designers were inspired by the work, rhetoric, and credo of architect Louis H. Sullivan who thought of architecture as based not on the past but on abstract geometric form combined with the elegance of simple lines and elaborate botanic ornamental patterns. Kruty writes, “Under the banner of ‘progress before precedent’ the Steinway Hall group preached an honest respect for materials, a frank expression of new technologies, and a connection between buildings and the landscape in which they were placed.” (1) For Sullivan’s work in Iowa, check this.

A young Walter Burley Griffin, just out of architecture school, was looking for a job and chose, strategically, to associate with the Steinway Hall group.

Frank Lloyd Wright, for a time, was affiliated with the Steinway Hall group. However, by the summer of 1901, as commissions grew, Wright’s “Prairie Style” made it possible for Griffin to work full time as a draughtsman in Wright’s Oak Park studio. Very soon Griffin became a highly valued designer and employee in Wright’s practice.

As sometimes happens, eventually Griffin received his own commissions from clients that helped to mature his architectural style and by 1906 Griffin was self-employed. As Kruty explains, “The basic vocabulary of form in Griffin’s work between 1906 and 1911, his first Prairie style, was clearly derived from Frank Lloyd Wright. Yet the differences are immediately apparent and appear ever stronger as Griffin gained confidence and a sharper vision of his goals. Wright’s mature Prairie style is a complex combination of formal and informal components, combining picturesque and classical elements held in bravura balance. In contrast, and perhaps as a legacy of his academic training at the University of Illinois, the more elaborate of Griffin’s compositions are invariably symmetrical, despite their appearance of asymmetry from many angles.” (2)

Under the eves — the double panel flora motif formed with “Teco” tiles, which was designed by Marion Mahony Griffin. Obviously, symmetry is evident when viewing the Ricker House — note twin chimneys and twin ornamental patterns as counterparts. One should add that Mahony was indispensable in presenting Griffin’s architectural concepts and by 1911 they were spouses as well as collaborative design partners.

The “Japanese style” veranda.

As a side note, I once had a steady graphic design client who idiosyncratically insisted on doing all design symmetrically. As a way to manage the symmetrical challenge it was very helpful to study Griffin’s work, which resonated in the way he constructed interior and exterior spatial relationships and featured human-centered design. Probably as a result of the experience, students taking design foundations will discover equal time spent on symmetrical and asymmetrical balance.
  1. Maldre, Mati, and Paul Kruty. Walter Burley Griffin in America. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996. 17.
  2. Ibid. 23.

Read More......