Friday, December 30, 2011

Vintage circular barns—design of the elegant curiosity

Above is a photograph of a circular or round barn. This one was built in Michigan around 1916. Specifically, this small barn is a: “very ‘architectural’ [structure] in which the maximum storage of hay has been made possible by its mansard roof…. In this barn we see that narrow clapboards can be bent around and applied to the structural frame. Its color is red, complementary to the green grass.” [1] It’s interesting that some free-spirited farmers “ignored tradition to embark on a structure involving elaborate setup” [2] for the functional design and economical space in the circle. Photograph by versluis, 2011.

Note the minimal pattern of windows and how the design alludes to the modern metal grain storage bin.

  1. Arthur, Eric, and Dudley Witney. The Barn: A Vanishing Landmark in North America. Toronto: M. F. Feheley Arts Company Ltd., 1972. 149. Print.
  2. Ibid. 147.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Frank Lloyd Wright: A Language of Pattern

These are photographs of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Meyer May House in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which was built in 1908 and reflects Wright’s mature Prairie Style. The pictures were recently taken, just a few days past the Winter Solstice when the low angle of the sun at midday creates very strong shadows on the exterior elevation. This photographic study indicates how Wright utilized natural daylight in order to emphasize the horizontal and vertical compositional stability of his buildings—Wright had a profound sense of order. Photographs by versluis, 2011.

The photographic detail above shows the elaborate symmetrical structural frames and wide moldings that unify and extend the window openings up to the clerestory and onto the ceiling skylights. The effect functions to screen for privacy the open interior living room space. But, metaphorically, as Julie Sloan writes: “In this way, Wright now not only brought the garden inside, but the sky and the sun as well.” [1] 93.

Apparently the casement windows were sized according to the floor-plan grid system. According to Sloan, “there existed a symbiosis between window and plan…” and one of Wright’s Oak Park apprentices, Charles White, remembered in 1904, “All his plans are composed of units grouped in a symmetrical and systematic way. The unit usually employed is the casement window unit…” [2] 96.
  1. Sloan, Julie L. Light Screens: The Leaded Glass of Frank Lloyd Wright. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 2001. 92-96. Print.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Green Patriot Posters at the Walker Arts Center


Above is a picture of the installation wall of Green Patriot Posters at the exhibition: Graphic Design: Now in Production at the Walker Arts Center (Minneapolis, MN) through January 22, 2012 and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum (New York, NY) in the summer of 2012. 

Exhibition co-curator, Andrew Blauvelt writes in the accompanying exhibition catalog: 
[Started in 2009] “… the ongoing Green Patriot Poster project is conceived to explore the potential ways the third and fourth wave environmentalism might be represented or depicted, the project solicits ideas in the form of posters that are crowdsourced through a website where new entries can be uploaded, existing designs rated and commentary appended, or designs downloaded for use.” 

The poster series is a very interesting example of the democratization of the design, production and distribution of topical posters for public consciousness and responsiveness.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

“… but I became a graphic designer instead”

Above is the image of a satirical and paradoxical ad published in Adbusters, 2001—the “Design Anarchy” issue, which became famous (or infamous) depending on one’s perspective. The ad proclaims that the next major movement in design is Design Anarchy. Interestingly, it seems that the ad is a reminder of the nature of graphic design today where some of the best designers have been able to merge art with design and design becomes integral with art. As the acclaimed graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister wrote in 2005 “… and a new generation [of designers] who manage to work with one foot in the art world and the other in the design world, like the young Swiss group Benzin and the American designers involved in the ‘Beautiful Losers’ exhibition, including Ryan McGinness and Shepard Fairey.” [1]

Whether it’s art and design, the common word for both is integrity. British designer Neville Brody has wise insight for designers these days: “If you have integrity, you say no to things. You must say no to things that are morally wrong. I wouldn’t work for a tobacco company, for example. But I also believe in trying to work closely with clients. Microsoft dominates ninety per cent of the computer market—but by working for them, I’m saying the war is over. I want to try and get them to humanize their process.”[2]

  1. Sagmeister, Stefan. Foreword. How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul. Author, Adrian Shaughnessy. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2005. 7. Print. 
  2. Ibid. Shaughnessy, Adrian. 29.

The ad copy reads:
I wanted to be an artist but I became a graphic designer instead*  
Movements in Design: Arts & Crafts Movement, 1890s; Art Nouveau, 1890-1910; Futurism, 1909; Plakatstil, 1917; De Stijl, 1917; The Bauhaus, 1919; Art Deco, 1920s; Constructivism, 1920s; Swiss Design, 1940; New York School, 1940s-50s; Push Pin Style, 1960s; Postmodern Design, 1980s; New Wave Typography, 1990s; Design Anarchy, 2000s; *set in 40 pt. Helvetica

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Typographic current events—“The Font Wall” from the exhibition, “Graphic Design: Now in Production”

The Font Wall from the installation Graphic Design: Now in Production at The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Photograph by versluis, 2011.

Identified top left to right: Base 900: Zuzana Licko, 2010; Akkurat: Laurenz Brunner, 2005; Fayon: Peter Mohr, 2010; Sentinel: Jonathon Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones, 2010; Reimin: Morisawa, 2011; LL Brown: Aurèle Sack, 2011; Replica: Norm, 2008. A2FM: Hennik Kubel, 2010; Router: Jeremy Mickel/Village, 2008; Adelle: José Scaglione and Veronika Burian, 2009; Aktiv Grotesk: Fablo Haag and Ron Carpenter, 2010; Mommie: Hubert Jackson, 2007; Buffalo: Ed Benguiat, 2011; Underware: Liza, 2009. Van Lanen: Matthew Carter, 2011; Trilogy: Jeremy Tankard, 2009; Aperçu: The Entente, 2010; History: Peter Bilàk, 2009. Charlie: Ross Milne, 2010; Anchor: Eric Olson, 2010; Questa: Jos Buivenga and Martin Majoor, 2012; Kohinoor: Satya Rajpurohit, 2011; Rumba: Laura Meseguer, 2006; Fugue: Radim Pesko, 2008–2010; Unity: Yomar Augusto, 2010. [1]

Pentagram’s Michael Bierut once compared the design and proliferation of type fonts to that of the endless variety of songs and lyrics that people continue to produce. Bierut’s analogy seems apropos and supports the need for more font designs in order for many people to fulfill their desire for articulacy.

Thirst’s Rick Valicenti recently reflected a similar sentiment about type design in the December issue of Wired magazine that commemorates the legacy of Steve Jobs. In an article commenting on Jobs’ contribution toward font design, Valicenti writes:

“The intuitive operating systems Jobs created have democratized font design. Right now there’s an avalanche of incredibly beautiful typefaces from all over the world that could only be designed on a Mac. Typography, like music, is an art form that embodies a time and place and culture. When type designers plot points on the Mac, they record our moment in time—all in the contour of a letterform.” [2]

I especially appreciate and enjoy Rick’s passage, which is a very lyrical analogy.

  1. Lupton, Ellen. “The Making of Typographic Man.” Graphic Design: Now in Production. Ed. Andrew Blauvelt and Ellen Lupton. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2011. 112-29. Print.
  2. Valicenti, Rick. “The Revolution According to Steve Jobs: Fonts, The Typographer’s Dream.” Wired Dec. 2011: 239. Print.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Typography and the metaphor of resistance

The above pieces are from the Walker Art Center Card Catalogue Collection. Each informational brochure coincides with exhibitions at the museum. In other words, each brochure or program is available at a particular show and you can conveniently collect and catalog them if you have the two-ring binder (like the Pantone® books).

For the 2010 exhibition titled Abstract Resistance, the Walker Art Center assembled seminal works by four generations of contemporary artists that relate to disturbing post-World War II historical events. As a starting point for the exhibition, curator Yasmil Raymond writes in the overview, “‘Michel Foucault’s assertion that where there is power, there is resistance,’ it [the exhibition] explores art made since World War II that has been shaped by traumatic events in complex ways.” The exhibition was gutsy and intended to upset the viewer’s comfort level.

The graphic designer for the Abstract Resistance exhibition informational piece utilizes an interesting type choice for the covers. The lowercase font design is Faricy Stencil Bold, which was designed by Chris Dickinson. However, the font is essentially Milton Glaser’s all upper case Stencil (the numerals are Glaser’s Stencil) from the late 60s; by comparison Dickinson’s font version has nuanced differences in addition to a lower-case design. Like Glaser’s Stencil letterforms, the “cutouts” in “Faricy Stencil Bold” seem rebelliously irreverent, from the frontlines, and suggesting resistance to indifference.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Julia Born: referencing the design practice/process

Here’s a selection from Graphic Design: Now in Production exhibition at The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

Above: Title of the Show catalog spread. “Einszweidrei” 2000, Publication, 22 x 33 cm, Offset print. Below: This piece is a mimetic semblance from an exhibition, Title of the Show (2009) by Julia Born and Laurenz Brunner. Cleverly appropriate for the Walker installation is the gallery wall display of a Title of the Show catalog spread in the form of “supersized” book pages. The Title of the Show exhibition received recognition for displaying devised, large-scale replicas of Julia Born’s graphic design projects. photograph by versluis 2011.

Providing background for this piece Andrew Blauvelt, co-organizer of the exhibition, Graphic Design: Now in Production writes:

“An exhibition and a catalogue by Julia Born and Laurenz Brunner, Title of the Show conflates the spaces of both productions while exploring the re-contextualization of design in a gallery setting. Created for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Leipzig, Title of the Show includes selections taken from Born’s projects—books, posters, postage stamps—enlarged and presented on the gallery walls. Absent the actual artifacts, the show relies instead on strategies of graphic design to represent itself. Photographed by Johannes Schwartz and transposed in scale, these displays become the pages of the accompanying catalogue, creating a mise en abyme of representations.” [1]

  1. Blauvelt, Andrew, and Ellen Lupton, eds. Graphic Design: Now in Production. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2011. 63. Print.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A new book release from Bobolink Books: “Ship Shape: A Dazzle Camouflage Sourcebook”

Cover image is courtesy of Bobolink Books

The subject of camouflage is multifaceted and holds a fascination for many people. For nearly thirty years Roy R. Behrens, writer, scholar, graphic designer and professor at the University of Northern Iowa, has become a leading authority on the relationship (the confluence) of art and camouflage. Professor Behrens’s newest publication, titled Ship Shape, is about World War I dazzle ship camouflage. The book is a compelling anthology of vintage essays, illustrations, and anecdotes discussing the theory of dazzle ship camouflage as a military strategy for optical confusion techniques and its correlation to art, graphic design, physics, and the natural sciences. When you looked at a dazzle camouflaged ship through the periscope of a menacing submarine you saw visual (figure & ground) ambiguity and uncertainty. Behrens is the editor and graphic designer of the book, published by Bobolink Books, Dysart, Iowa.

With this publication Behrens cleverly draws back the curtain to show readers some of the primary sources that he has referenced in his numerous public presentations and acclaimed publications on ship camouflage. This publication is the most comprehensive sourcebook about dazzle camouflage while the bibliography for further reading is impressively extensive. As Roy writes in the preface, “My own way of managing all this [material] is to pretend that I am witnessing in the pages — one could say, historically eavesdropping on — the ‘chatter’ of an era when ship camouflage was the subject of fervently heated exchanges — along with cubism, jazz, women’s suffrage, prohibition, costume parties, and baseball.” Ship Shape is specifically about dazzle ship camouflage with selections written during the World War I era. The exception to this is a delightful chapter on camouflage miscellany titled “Jazz, baseball, booze, and dazzle balls,” which is a collection, a “medley” as Behrens calls them of camouflage and popular culture. These written bits and pieces are also from the World War I period.

Obviously, when reading material from an earlier era the writing style can often highlight certain idioms and mannerisms, which now seem interestingly amusing. However, it becomes apparent in reading Ship Shape that the early pioneers of dazzle camouflage were highly motivated through their research and convictions that applying dazzle camouflage to cargo and troop ships in wartime could unquestionably help save human lives and cargo from sly enemy submarine torpedoes. Perhaps an analogy might be that the World War I camoufleurs were like the biblical character Noah who built an enormous “life boat” as a place of safety from impending doom.

As with all of Behrens’s books, Ship Shape is instructive and entertaining. As you read the essays, the editor’s comments, and look at the illustrations you will always find a new perspective. This book can be characterized by it’s many salient features. For instance, the photographs highlighting British painter Edward Wadsworth are stunning and alone are worth the cost of the book.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Philippe Apeloig, “understanding the art and design of letters”

Photographs from the Graphic Design: Now in Production show at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (note viewer and environmental interior reflections in the frame glass).
Top: Philippe Apeloig, designer. FIAF: French Institute/Alliance Française de New York, Crossing the Line – FIAF Fall Festival, Affiche, 100 × 150 cm, 2010. Directly above: Philippe Apeloig, [Motion] Typographie (on screen): La Lorraine, 2005.

Currently on display is a major exhibition at the Walker called Graphic Design: Now in Production — the show runs until 22 January 2012. In the exhibition catalog Ellen Lupton writes, as one of the featured essayists, a piece entitled, “The Making of Typographic Man.” Lupton’s essay correlates to the Typography area in the show, which features, among several others, the work of French graphic designer, Philippe Apeloig. As Ms. Lupton states:

Custom lettering is a powerful current in contemporary design. Designers today combine physical and digital processes to create letterforms that grow, copulate, and fall apart. Vocabularies range from the lush organicism of Marian Bantjes and Antoine et Manual to the geometric constructions of Philippe Apeloig, whose bitmapped forms suggest an animated process of assembly and dissolution. [1]
However, Apeloig’s compelling typography also seems to move beyond the geometric constructions, using the motion of countless pixilated points of light that coalesce and disperse to suggest the impact of human culture in flux and crossing boundaries. Interestingly, Lupton ends her essay with these words, which contextualizes the work of Apeloig:
Unfurling today across the networked horizon, text is now mutable (changing), interactive, and iterative, no longer melded to a solid medium… an essential “natural resource” (an essential medium of text exchange in our times). [2]
Indeed Apeloig’s typographic design is an image of a flourishing estuary—the ebb and flow of multifaceted cultural diversities.
  1. Lupton, Ellen. “2011 The Making of Typograpic Man.” Graphic Design: Now in Production. Ed. Andrew Blauvelt and Ellen Lupton. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2011. 113. Print.
  2. Ibid. 114.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Henk Krijger: designer of the Trinity Christian College Logo

The Trinity Christian College Symbol was designed by Henk Krijger in ca.1970. Above left: Krijger’s two-color original logo for TCC (courtesy of Peter Enneson). Right: The TCC logo in subsequent years redrawn as a one-color “blue” version.

Today, 19 November, is the anniversary of the birth of Henk Krijger, a Dutch artist and graphic designer. He was born in 1914 and died in 1979 at age 65. [1]

Trinity Christian College is located in the south Chicago suburb of Palos Heights, IL. When Dayton Castleman, a current art professor, came to Trinity he was very enthusiastic about the art of the Trinity logo. The astute Castleman saw the correlation of Krijger’s design with that of minimalist modern art. In 2008, Dayton said this about Trinity’s mark:

Regarding the logo’s uniqueness among Christian colleges, there was a recent college president that apparently disliked the logo, and added a more traditional college seal to the school’s graphic representations, but the three-bar logo is the most common, and seems to be the most easily identifiable with the school… the artist of the logo is unknown… [2]
Here’s part of the story about the origin of the logo from a pretty good authority, Dr. Calvin Seerveld:
Yes, David. Trinity still uses it, and Henk Krijger designed it in 1970-71. There is probably a faculty minute on it. It was not the result of a ‘competition’ for a logo, since Krijger was our art prof (part-time) at the time. [There were efforts] to get others to produce designs (quite cluttered and old-fashioned), but failed to stop what Krijger produced at the faculty request. [3]
The three rectangles within a “classical” golden section square indicates an essence of form that is usually associated with a modernist graphic design 20th century international style. The square format contrasts with the geometric triangle, which is the traditional Trinitarian symbol — perhaps Krijger’s Trinity symbol of the three-in-one concept is more theologically accurate than the triangle configuration. When a logo design has to go through a group and variety of opinions in the selection process, not always is the best design chosen. The uniqueness of Trinity’s mark is the result of great trust in the work of Krijger and the apparent distinctiveness of Trinity’s faculty and students in 1970-71. The Trinity mark is still fresh and memorable even after over forty years of use. That’s remarkable.
  1. de Bree, Jan, ed. Hommage à Senggih: A Retrospective of Henk Krijger in North America. Toronto: Patmos Gallery, the Henk Krijger Estate, 1988. 67. Print.
  2. Castleman, Dayton. “Trinity Logo – Painter Edition.” Dayton is Not in Ohio. n.p., 3 July 2008. Web. 19 Nov. 2011.
  3. Seerveld, Dr. Calvin. “Henk Krijger and the Trinity Christian College Logo,” Message to the author. 11 Nov. 2011. Web.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Simon Garfield’s “Just My Type”

Top: Glaser's “Stencil”, c. 1967 – this current rendition is by Linotype. Below: “Baby Teeth” originally drawn by Milton Glaser, c. 1964. Here’s the image source.

The early to late-1980s issues and arguments about using personal computers for graphic design now seem passé, but stories about how some of the great graphic designers were reluctant to use computer technology when it first came out is still interesting and amusing.

In his book Just My Type, author Simon Garfield tells a story about the time Milton Glaser and Matthew Carter ‘debated’ the use of personal computers as a type designer’s medium and tool. As Garfield writes:

I asked Matthew Carter whether computers have made the life of a type designer any easier (Carter, if you’ll recall, began life as a punchcutter in the style of a latterday Gutenberg, and has worked with practically every typesetting method since; his greatest digital hits have been Verdana and Georgia). He replied, ‘Some aspects get easier. But if you’re doing a good job you should feel that it gets harder. If you think it’s getting easier, you ought to look out. I think it means you’re getting lazy.’

When personal computers and typographic software were in their infancy, Carter became involved in a quarrel at a type conference with the designer Milton Glaser…. ‘He was very resistant,’ Carter remembers. ‘His point was that you can’t sketch with a computer, you can’t do a woolly line – everything that comes out of a computer is finished. I didn’t disagree with that, but on a computer there are other ways of sketching. All type design programs have these very crude tools that allow you to take a shape and flip and flop it and stick it here and there. And if I’m designing a typeface and I’ve drawn the lower-case b, there’s information there that I can use for the p and the q, so why not flip and flop it? It’s done in seconds, and gives me a chance to clean things up and resolve matters. And if I’ve done a lower-case n, I’ve got a lot of information about the m and the h and the u. Why wouldn’t use that? In the old days when I was drawing it, I would also use the information but it would be much more laborious. Computers are not the answer, but they’re a help.’[1]
Ironically, it seems when you study the drawn typefaces designed by Glaser his type styles look like they could be computer generated. Just My Type, by Simon Garfield, is very good reading; it contains interesting descriptions of typefaces along with anecdotes about type designers.
  1. Garfield, Simon. Just My Type: A Book About Fonts. New York. Penguin Group/Gotham Books, 2010. 321-22. Print.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Dordt College Classroom Building Sculpture Proposal

Photography and illustration by versluis © 2011

The illustration above shows the collaborative Dordt campus sculpture proposal for the exterior wall of the Ribbens Academic Complex Building (east elevation). The piece is tentatively called “Insignia” and it’s important that the work compliments both the architecture and the existing sculpture titled “The Gift” by Van Wyk. The collaboration consists of artwork by Jacob Van Wyk along with design and illustration by David Versluis. Proposed project materials and construction is a wall-mounted substrate of individually glazed stoneware tiles.

Interestingly, regarding collaborative process, architect Frank Gehry conveys this insight:

I collaborate with people on projects because it enriches the mix and gets you somewhere else that you wouldn’t have gotten to otherwise. When it’s really working, it is like holding hands and jumping off a cliff together.[1]
  1. Isenberg, Barbara. Conversations with Frank Gehry. First ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. 155. Print.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

M.C. Escher and the Keramiekmuseum Princessehof, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands

Princessehof Museum Leeuwarden
Top photograph by versluis, 2004 — Credit for the close-up photograph below it is from SmitoniusAndSonata, all rights reserved.

Pictured above are ceramic tiles on the exterior wall of the Princessehof Ceramics Museum in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. The design is based on M.C. Escher’s 1949 woodcut titled the “Regular Division of the Plane With Birds.” The piece commemorates the fact that M.C. (Maurits Cornelis) Escher (1898–1972) was born in Leeuwarden.

Escher felt that the regular division of the plane using contiguous shapes was one of the most interesting problems he dealt with. In an essay titled “Coloured Symmetry” Prof. H.S.M. Coxeter quotes Escher as saying:

“A plane, which should be considered limitless on all sides, can be filled with or divided into similar geometric figures that border each other on all sides without leaving any ‘empty spaces’. This can be carried on to infinity according to a limited number of systems.”[1]

Escher goes on to say this about his interest in the motifs of animal shapes:

“… My experience has taught me that the silhouettes of birds and fish are the most gratifying shapes of all for use in the game of dividing the plane. The silhouette of a flying bird has just the necessary angularity, while the bulges and indentations in the outline are neither too pronounced nor too subtle ….”[2]

  1. Coxeter, H. S. M. “Coloured Symmetry.” M.C. Escher: Art and Science. Ed. H. S. M. Coxeter, M. Emmer, R. Penrose, and M. L. Teuber. 2nd ed. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., 1987. 15. Print.
  2. Ibid. 16.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

The “Charis: Boundary Crossings” Exhibition at Dordt College

A photograph of the Charis Exhibition installation at Dordt College. Photograph by versluis © 2011.

The following article (used with permission) is by Adam McDonald editor for the Dordt Diamond, the student newspaper:

The newest addition to the Dordt College Art Gallery “Charis: Boundary Crossings — Neighbors, Strangers, Family, Friends” is a series comprised of various works between seven North American and seven Asian artists. “The gist of this was to form collaborations between American artists and those in Asia,” said Art Professor David Versluis. “They met in Indonesia for two weeks exploring art and Christianity on a global level.”

Charis is a Greek word that means “grace” but more literally, “good will”. The term has been used by many Asian Christian artists as they find themselves in pluralistic societies. The challenges of cross-cultural communication, the need for people of faith to address real world issues, social justice, peace and reconciliation, not to mention the effects of globalization make this a complex contemporary exhibition.

Paintings, sculpture, fiber constructions, installation and video projections are all a part of the medium of the show and shows a strong diversity in not only the kinds of artists that comprise the show but in the kinds of media one can see in the show itself.

“It’s interesting that the Asian artists, according to some of the North American artists, had a strong social justice component to their work,” said Versluis. “The display really shows you different ways to look at art based on cultural context. For instance, the North American artists seem to be more educated within art academies and tend to think more in terms of postmodern work. In contrast, most of the Asian artists show a strong allegiance to formalism, the form of a painting as well as figurative work.”

Versluis heard about the show through Art Professor Rachel Hostetter Smith, curator of the exhibit, who teaches at Taylor University. “I was interested in the theme of the show and thought it would be worthwhile to bring to Dordt,” said Versluis. The show is being funded by the Andreas Center for Reformed Scholarship and will remain at Dordt until the end of the 2011 school year.
Professor Smith will be at Dordt on November 18 for a reception and gallery talk. Exhibiting artists include: Roger Feldman, U.S.A.; Edgar Talusan Fernandez, Philippines; Daniel Enrique Garcia, U.S.A., b. Peru; Emmanuel Garibay, Philippines; David J.P. Hooker, U.S.A.; Barry Krammes, U.S.A.; Timur Indyah Poerwowidagdo, Indonesia; Rondal Reynoso, U.S.A.; Wisnu Sasongko, Indonesia; Chris Segre-Lewis, U.S.A., b. Jamaica; Erland Sibuea, Bali; Ni Ketut Ayu Sri Wardani, Indonesia; Jo-Ann Van Reeuwyk, U.S.A. and Canada; and Soichi Watanabe, Japan.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Sabbatical at Thirst [3st] for the 2012 spring semester

A picture of the design office of Thirst [3st] in Chicago. The studio walls display some of the seminal and most interesting design artifacts of the late 20th and early 21st century. Photograph courtesy of Thirst.

On 21 October, David Versluis was notified by Dordt College Provost, Dr. Erik Hoekstra that the Dordt College Board of Trustees officially approved his proposal for a post-graduate, sabbatical leave of absence during the 2012 spring semester.

Following are a few key elements from Versluis’s proposal:

The main goal of this leave of absence is to investigate how developments in technology, business, and social priorities have impacted design education and practice in the 21st century. It is apparent that the changing qualities of culture and society have placed unique demands on design educators in preparing students in specialization toward fields such as service and interactive design.


We are a society that increasingly questions consumption and advertising, which traditionally is at the heart of the graphic design discipline. However, we also seem to demand and rely on a dynamic technological economy that affects many aspects of life. As a result there is an increased demand for service-based jobs as our country re-evaluates economic sustainability. People are demanding quality, reflective, and meaningful experiences in their world.

In the last 20 years, the general situation of design has moved from mainly:
  1. Single-artifact systems to design-language systems, focusing on a unified visual and semantic messages across multiple printed pieces.
  2. One-way communicative artifacts, such as brochures, to interactive artifacts, such as software.
  3. Designed artifacts to design thinking, where the focus of the design process is applied in the context of large-scale business, organizational or cultural problems.
  4. Commercial goods toward time-based, service design, which is about providing the resources for people in a system to learn, adapt and share the knowledge they gain about the world with other parts of the system. [1]
The objective of this leave of absence is to achieve the purpose of maintaining professional relevance and remaining academically current in the rapidly changing discipline of graphic design and design education. This effort would certainly and positively impact student learning by modeling inspiration and enthusiasm about design. In addition, departmental outreach would be further enhanced by faculty quality expertise gained through actual professional experiences that could be publicized. This indeed would translate into developing student confidence and building finer program expectations and program credibility.

During this time Versluis be working on site with the Thirst / Chicago design group with Rick Valicenti and his team of very talented and tech-savvy young designers. This is an opportunity to engage in working in one of the most imaginative design environments in the world.
  1. Kolko, Jon. “Remapping the Curriculum.” From “Voice” New Contexts/New Practices: Six Perspectives on Design Education. Ed. Julie Lasky. AIGA, 1 Dec. 2010. Web. 25 Feb. 2011.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

J.D. Gordon Advertising — a firm that honors the personal approach of graphic design

Jeff Gordon, principal of J.D. Gordon Advertising (photograph is from the J.D. Gordon Advertising website).

AIGA Dordt College Student Group is very pleased to announce a field trip to J.D. Gordon Advertising in Sioux City, Iowa on Wednesday, November 9, 2011.

This is from J.D. Gordon's website:

“… creativity isn’t just about making a pretty picture, designing a head-turning campaign or writing a snappy jingle. Although we’re very good at all those things. Our creativity goes far beyond the expected, seeping into our media plans, our daily communications and even our lunch meetings.”

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Designer, Young Ae Kim can do it all — exceptionally well

photographs by versluis, 2011

Speaker, Designer, Teacher, Product Developer and Sales — Young Ae Kim, it seems, can do it all very well. On Tuesday, October 11, 2011 the Dordt College Department of Art and Design and the AIGA Student Group recently hosted an all day event with Young Ae Kim. We were honored and delighted to have her serve as a visiting designer. And her students accompanied her from the University of South Dakota, which was especially great to have community between Dordt and USD students. Interestingly, Young Ae Kim has training in product design and so some of her portfolio work showed the relationship of promotional materials for her own products.

We thank Dordt students, Michelle Stam and Ellie Dykstra who compiled the following notes from Young Ae Kim’s presentations.

Designer tips for students (notes by Michelle):

  1. Ask to see the work of other companies. Go and visit them. This way you can see what they do and build helpful relationships within the design community. Make as many connections as you can.
  2. Be welcoming and patient. Communicate well. Get along with all kinds of people, even one’s you don’t like.
  3. Put yourself out there / take chances.
  4. Educate people logically — help them see how your design could benefit them and improve their business.
  5. Do a lot of research about the subject matter and the client. You want to know them the best you can so that you can better fulfill their needs.
  6. Employers want to see work, not degrees.
  7. Look at the big picture and where different opportunities might lead. You have to think about the future, not just what you want to do now.
  8. Try to map out where you want to be in 5 year increments from now to 50. This will help motivate you and give you goals to aim for.
Quotes by Young Ae Kim — notes by Ellie
  1. Be an entertainer.
  2. Be experienced in all areas of life.
  3. Be willing to do anything — having many experiences will expand you.
  4. Know the difference between looking good and being creative.
  5. “50 inches of invisible concrete on your face” (learn to take criticism).
  6. Be outgoing and don’t be shy — you are a communicator
  7. Have a big heart.
  8. Present yourself in a professional manner.
  9. Develop a business plan and how you can make it better.
  10. Don’t compromise and seek out job you really want.
  11. Know what you like and go after it.
  12. Doesn’t matter where you work, its how you work and who you work with.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Onawa Public Library

Principal Architects: Normand Smith Patton and Grant C. Miller
Onawa Public Library, 1908
Addition (not shown) designed by FEH Associates, 2005-06
Onawa, Iowa (just off I-29 in Western Iowa, between Sioux City and Omaha)
photograph by Versluis, 2011

Patton and Miller was the Chicago architectural firm that designed the initial Onawa Public Library as another Carnegie Library in the United States in 1908. Construction began that year and was completed in 1909. Interestingly, along with the Carnegie monetary gift of $10,000 the library was built with a matching donation from an altruistic local judge, S. Addison Oliver. Near the completion of the library Judge Oliver also gave an endowment of $10,000 to be used for new book acquisitions.

The architectural mode of the Onawa Public Library is characteristic of the Chicago School. The Chicago School, although somewhat synonymous with Prairie School tends to be more eclectic than pure Prairie School architectural design. In its day Prairie School architecture was considered modern, efficient, and progressive. Actually, the state of Iowa has some excellent examples of early twentieth century Prairie School architecture by Louis H. Sullivan and many other architects associated more or less with the Prairie School; perhaps that’s the reason Carnegie’s Library Project Manager chose the idiom for Onawa.

The domestic style of the library is striking particularly as the landscape foliage turns autumnal. With dark earthy brick color and a large sheltering tiled hip roof, the classic symmetry creates a unified and harmonious composition. Chicago School architecture suggests the confluence of many influences, e.g., H.H. Richardson, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, English Arts and Crafts, Neoclassical, etc.; this building exhibits Prairie School attributes, but also includes Romanesque Revival elements such as prominent semi-circular arches on the main floor windows and the Japanese style lintel over the front entry stoop.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hand-painted Clarendon Extended & Regular

Photograph of a vintage World War II railroad troop sleeping car manufactured by the Pullman Company, Chicago in the early 1940s.
New Buffalo Railroad Museum, New Buffalo, Michigan
Photograph by versluis 2011

The Victorian typestyle Clarendon Extended on the side of this restored railroad car is painted homemade but the name “Pullman” is nicely lettered. The Clarendon suggests the beginnings of the Pullman Palace Car Company in the nineteenth century. Note how the letterer amputated the toe in the leg terminal of the “R” in Troop and Sleeper to maintain tight letter spacing.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Young Ae Kim: visiting designer at Dordt College

above: portrait of Young Ae Kim
below: portfolio project for SangsangMadang — KT&G Imagination Seed Identity Program.
The SangsangMadang company’s website states:

KT&G Imagination Seed is where you grow your artistic imagination:
  1. supports new imaginations
  2. supports and advocates cultural variety and uniqueness.
  3. communicates and shares with the world
The concept of KT&G Imagination Seed:
  1. We aim open projects, such as external co-projects, which allow individuals and the public to realize projects that they can plan, exhibit and perform by themselves.
  2. We pay attention to and seek out small but worthy art works.
  3. We support young artists of design, photography, music bands, etc. with our practical artist support programs.
The Dordt College Department of Art and Design is pleased to announce Young Ae Kim will be on campus Tuesday 11 October as a visiting designer. During the day she will be visiting several classes as well giving an afternoon presentation highlighting her various projects. Young Ae Kim who teaches graphic design at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion is an energetic teacher and versatile designer and artist. Each year she runs the acclaimed week-long graphic design workshop called “Design Habit” which is open to all students who would like to participate.
Here’s the schedule:
Young Ae Kim: Visiting Designer
Tuesday 11 October (All events held in the Art Gallery Lobby)
Dordt College Department of Art and Design
  • 9:30 a.m. Senior Seminar (the M.F.A. in Graphic Design)
  • 11:00 a.m. Graphic Design 3 (“Imperfect Beauty”)
  • Lunch with students and faculty
  • 1:30 a.m. AIGA Presentation Young Ae Kim will discuss her personal work.
Young Ae Kim’s USD webpage mentions that:
[She] has a B.F.A. in Industrial Design from Sookmyung Women's University in Seoul Korea and she holds an M.F.A. in Graphic Design, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Savannah, Georgia. She writes, “I am happy with a design when it makes people smile. There are many ways an object can make someone smile: familiarity, surprise, beauty, satisfaction, pride, simplicity, humor or wonder. If an object stimulates this reaction whilst performing the function for which it was created, then it is well designed.…”

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bakkerij Versluis: Logotype

Above: the Bakkerij Versluis storefront, Woerden, Netherlands
Photograph by versluis, 2004 (note the sunflowers in the upper bay window)
Below: Banner is taken from the Bakkerij Versluis website

Bakkerij Versluis (probably no relation) is located on Voorstraat in Woerden, Netherlands — Woerden is just off E30 between Utrecht and Gouda.

Here’s a quick non-comprehensive logo analysis:

The Versluis logotype is relatively simple and rather an enjoyable trademark — the casual script type style seems to convey friendliness that reminds one to give thanks for our daily croissant, bread, and banket (a traditional Dutch almond pastry).

The shape of a crescent-shaped bread roll — the croissant, inspired the interesting form of the upper case “V” in the logotype, which relates to the angular and square ends of the script style letters. The deeper color suggest Versluis as purveyors of good, wholesome, and sweet things to eat.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Charis Exhibition, boundary crossings: a journey with direction

Roger Feldman
Pivots: Inside Passage
Painted wood, metal straps, and stone
Site-specific installation at Calvin College
16’ x 12’ x 12’
photograph by versluis, 2011

Starting the middle of October Dordt College will be hosting the Charis Exhibition in the Campus Center Art Gallery. Charis is a Greek word meaning “Grace” or, essentially “goodwill on the part of the doer.” The exhibition was a collaborative art-making project in the summer of 2008 between selected North American artists and selected Indonesian artists. Interestingly, Dordt alumna, Krista (Koning) Krygsman designed the wonderful catalog which accompanies the show.

The piece pictured above is a full-scale version from a maquette, which was developed during the project — the maquette is in the show.

Professor Rachel Hostetter Smith, exhibition curator, writes in the introductory essay of the exhibition catalog, “Roger Feldman investigates the tensions that arise in this global economy as beliefs, values, and needs come into conflict with one another.” His Pivots series was produced in the context found in Indonesia through participation in the Charis Project.

Inside Passage was a commission and a cooperation of students and community members under Feldman’s direction to build the art piece on site. One may enter into the piece through an open passageway and walk through, encountering gentle obstacles which force a change in direction but leads to open spaces above and through to the other side.

A prominent painted exterior panel represents the bright Indonesian sky. In addition, here’s a description about the piece from Feldman’s website:

Three semi-circular walls join a geometric right-angled wall and refer to the four major world religions of Islam (green) [shown above], Hindu (yellow), Buddhist (orange) and Christian (white) faiths. The exterior does not reveal the interior experiences nor the sound component due to its orientation. An overhead bundle of poles tie the four religions together as they share a burden of co-existence.[1]
  1. Smith, Rachel Hostetter, ed. Charis: Boundary Crossings. Grand Rapids: Calvin College, 2009. 14. Print.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

AIGA Nebraska: the Reboot Camp “Small Talk” with Robynne Raye (Modern Dog Design Co.)

Robynne Raye photograph by versluis 2011

Reboot Camp with Seattle-based graphic designer Robynne Raye was a three-day design workshop organized by Paul Berkbigler, education director for AIGA Nebraska and hosted by Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska (Phil Schimonitz, graphic design instructor). As Paul said in the promotional materials, “this is an opportunity to meet with one of America’s top designers.” The workshop, which took place from September 15-17, 2011 was team oriented and geared for professional designers, design educators, and students.

At the end of the first day of the workshop Robynne held a “Small Talk” (small group session) with workshop participants and for those just interested. Several students and I made our way to Norfolk to gather for a Q & A with Ms. Raye.

Interestingly, Raye graduated from college with an art education degree, but since teaching jobs were scarce at the time, Robynne turned to graphic design. Near the beginning of the session she stressed that the roots of her company, Modern Dog Design, were in serving non-profit organizations and developing Identity projects. Raye said, “Non-profits have been very good for us because we feel we’re making something of a difference with graphic design by really helping people. However, we’re able to stay in business because of our [loyal] for-profit clients.”

At the end of the session Ellie, a Dordt student, asked Robynne about her design process at Modern Dog (I’m paraphrasing):

I use the Internet – Google. But first we think about the project and then we talk about the project. We look at and study a lot of other designs and images.

We don’t necessarily try to be original — it’s very important that we know the source of every inspirational thing we look at. We’re always aware and know where our ideas have come from. We parody through redrawing, which helps translate a copy either with hand-drawing or the computer into our own unique interpretation.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Minnesota Center for Book Arts: Día de los Muertos Postcard Contest

Current work: © David Versluis (photography and digital design)
Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead postcard contest (4" x 6")

The photographs are a pair of one hundred years old sailing ship deadeyes, which have been scanned from a 35mm contact sheet of photographs that were shot in Grand Haven, Michigan in 1982.

The Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) call for entries states: any media may be used — the subject matter should reflect the traditions and art associated with El Día de los Muertos.

The Dordt College advanced graphic design class is also participating with each student submitting at least one design. All the entries are displayed in the MCBA Open Book Lobby Gallery in Minneapolis from September 16 to November 6, 2011.

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Frederickus Reinders and His Memorial Icons

Fred Reinders (1874-1959)
Liberty (after The Statue of Liberty)
painted cement
ca. 1945
photograph by versluis, 2011

This piece is one of several statues which can be found in Hospers, Iowa (pop. 690) on Main Street, in the Hospers Memorial Park (adjacent to the library and community center). The pieces were made by a local artist, Frederickus (Fred) Reinders, who wanted to commemorate the end of World War II in 1945. According to the local library’s website, “There was a formal dedication held on Saturday September 15, 1945.” About twenty-five years earlier Reinders had constructed an elaborate memorial in the middle of Main Street to memorialize the sacrifices of World War I.

It has been said that these statues are in the Folk Art tradition; however, the statues as well as other works by Reinders show a complexity that reveal some artistic training and cleverness. The charming look and naiveté of the pieces result from the rather rudimentary medium which Reinders had to work with.

To build the pieces Reinders modeled the figures in cement on an armature of steel and chicken wire mesh. The Liberty statue is positioned on the east side of the park but interestingly, that was not Reinders’ initial intention. The library’s website states that Liberty is “holding a torch that was to have lit the north end of the park. She clutches a book inscribed with the word LAW. For without law, liberty cannot be upheld.”

Here’s a brief biography of Reinders from the library’s website:

The Hospers Memorial Statues were built by Frederickus (Fred) Reinders. Reinders was born in Groningen Netherlands on December 18, 1874. Reinders was enrolled in an art school in the Netherlands at the age of six. He immigrated to the United States in 1893. Reinders first made his home near Platte, South Dakota. After a year or two of farming Reinders left the Platte area because of severe drought conditions and came to the Hospers area with his newlywed wife Jantje Dolphin Reinders. Fred Reinders went into business in Hospers as a house painter but soon discontinued the work due to health reasons. He then sold furniture and obtained a license as a mortician. In 1935, Reinders retired at the age of 61 and devoted his time to his hobby of portrait and picture painting and sculpting. Fred Reinders died on January 10, 1959 at the age of 84.
The statues have been carefully restored by Dordt College Art Professor Jake Van Wyk and repainted by Dordt alumnus Josh Wynia. In fact, the dragon of war piece in the Memorial Park is a terra cotta recreation by Professor Van Wyk.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Futura and the Dordt College architectural sign of 1955

Pictured above is the original Dordt College architectural sign of 1955, which is composed using the Futura typeface. It’s perhaps the classiest exterior sign on campus. The 8 inch high metal letters are 1.875 inches deep and are mounted to 4 inch thick limestone blocks with .5 inch stand-offs, which can create pronounced drop shadows. The generous letter spacing seems to mitigate the encroachment of the geometrically circular “O” into the space of the other letters.

Futura is a sans serif face that adheres to the tenet of being assembled from geometric shapes and the characteristically consistent stroke width suggests automation. Futura was developed with 1920s Bauhaus influences and is the quintessentially twentieth century modern (universal) typeface with classical proportions that helps to convey the concept of form ever follows function. It was one of the commercially popular sans serif type styles of the mid-twentieth century.

Regarding “universal” Futura during the Bauhaus era, Ellen Lupton (crediting Richard Southall and Christopher Burke) puts it this way:

While any graphic designer of the period would have required skills in hand lettering, only a few embarked on the more challenging task of creating a complete, industrially produced typeface. One who did so was Paul Renner, who began work on Futura in Munich in 1924. Although early versions of his alphabet included experimental characters with extreme geometric forms, the final typeface — released in 1927, after three years of ongoing development — is more conservative. The circular “O” of Futura links it to the cruder, more programmatic experiments of the Bauhaus.[1]
  1. Lupton, Ellen. “Herbert Bayer: Designs for ‘Universal’ Lettering. 1925 and 1927.” Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity. Ed. Barry Bergdoll and Leah Dickerman. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2009. 200-03. Print.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Dordt is showing the 2011 “Book It!” show from AIGA Nebraska

Photograph by Aanna Stadem © 2011

Cover designer credits from left to right: Lewis Carrol’s “Alice in Wonderland” (© Emily Yoble); Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphoses” (© Peter Morris); Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” (© Peter Morris)

The following copy is from the Dordt College public information office:

SIOUX CENTER, IA – “Let’s face it folks: as designers, we might not always take time to read all the copy, but our heads generally swivel to see great cover graphics,” said a recent article by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Nebraska. Because great book cover designs should be celebrated, Dordt College is hosting Book It!, a graphic design competition and exhibition hosted by AIGA Nebraska showcasing the best book cover designs.

The exhibit will be on display now through October 10 in the entrance to the Dordt College Ribbens Academic Complex.

Cover designs on display have been judged as the top 15 picks by the panel of judges, all of whom are established graphic designers, including Rodrigo Corral of New York City, Roberto de Vicqu de Cumptich of New York City, and Bryony Gomez-Palacio of Austin, Texas.

Also on display in the Dordt College Campus Center Art Gallery is the famous Herman Miller Summer Picnic poster collection featuring the work of Steve Frykholm. The gallery is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.”

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Friday, September 2, 2011

“Integrazione scenica of the villa into the landscape”: The Getty Center, Los Angeles

photograph by versluis, 2011

The Richard Meier quote in the title of this piece is from Michael Brawne’s essay and book about the Getty Center. The picture above is overlooking the space between the Museum and the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities. The architect Meier and his large team have combined the buildings “in a special gesture” while the people in the scene enliven the spaces. To the left is the circular Central Garden designed by Robert Irwin.

In the middle ground — the sloping line of mature London plane trees (“Yarwood”) help “soften” the buildings and hide the “classic” cascading stream of water that empties into the circular pool below.

For insight about the design of the Getty Center, Brawne quotes Meier:

Sometimes I think that the landscape overtakes it, and sometimes I see the structure as standing out, dominating the landscape. The two are entwined in a dialogue, a perpetual embrace in which building and site are one.

In the garden the organization, conversion and perfection of nature took place according to prescribed architectural rules, which brought about the Integrazione scenica of the villa into the landscape. The plan of the villa can be regarded as a rational scheme superimposed on the landscape in which those parts of the landscape covered by the scheme are ordered and intensified.[1]
Brawne ends his essay with a profound truth by saying:
The thousands who make the journey uphill to the Getty Center each day… can in no way escape taking delight in the paintings and sculpture, in the architecture and its surrounding gardens, in the light and the view, in the joyful and civilized atmosphere that has been created.[2]
  1. Brawne, Michael; (John Linden, photographs; John Hewitt, drawings). The Getty Center: Richard Meier & Partners. London: Phaidon Press Ltd, 1998. 35. Print.
  2. Ibid, 48.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jaume Plensa: people of letters

Jaume Plensa, Spanish
“I, you, she or he...” (2006)
© Jaume Plensa
Frederick Meijer Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, Michigan
photograph by versluis, 2011

Jaume Plensas sculpture includes three figures and the photographs above indicate a front view, a back view of another figure along with a close-up.

The quintessential collage artist of the twentieth century, Kurt Schwitters once wrote, “Not the word but the letter is the original material of poetry.” [1] In addition, perhaps Plensa’s sculptural content suggests “we are hollow men” (T.S. Eliot).

In this sense Plensa’s figurative sculptures are poetic soliloquies. His classic figural forms seem paradoxical as partially transparent yet solid. This piece suggests a community or “family” comprised of a group of three individual figures. Each figure is formed by an open mesh of metallic uppercase sans serif letters that are tack-welded together. The figures are seated on flat limestone boulders and seem to balance on the stone.

Technically, there's a smoothness and polish to the edge of the metal letters, which possibly suggests that they may have been cut by water-jetting or Wire EDM.

Plensa is best known for the “Crown Fountain” in Chicago's Millennium Park, which was installed in 2004.

  1. Schwitters, Kurt. “Consistent Poetry,” 1924. Modernism: An Anthology of Sources and Documents. Ed. Vassiliki Kolocotroni, Jane Goldman, and Olga Taxidou. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998. 284. Print.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Risk: Street Art Chic

The “RISK” tag from his installation wall piece for the Art in the Streets exhibition at the MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary in Los Angeles. The show completed its run at the museum on August 8. photograph by versluis, 2011.

From illegal graffiti to the merger of a commercial art brand and gallery art — Risk’s personal and compelling lettering style is from the heart. And his paintings express an energy that achieves high visual impact. Earlier this year the Los Angeles Times did an interview with Risk:

Risk helped to import Wild Style graffiti, with hard-to-decipher, [bubbly forms and] interlocking letters, from the New York subways to the L.A. freeways. At the Geffen, the artist takes over part of a wall inside and has parked a salvaged bus, painted in fiery colors, outside.…

At 43, Risk represents another generation, but these artists share something in common. They have all witnessed their rebellious, adolescent gestures become a popular activity — and big business. They’ve seen their own art and their colleagues’ migrate into fine art galleries on the one hand and onto clothing, advertising and entertainment on the other.… [1]
  1. Finkel, Jori. “Risk, more of L.A.’s street art pioneers paint a colorful history.” Los Angeles Times 10 Apr. 2011. Web. 27 Aug. 2011.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Pae White and the convergence of technology, art and design

Pae White
Der Wërks, 2010
Mixed media
© Pae White
(MOCA) The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
photograph by versluis, 2011

This site–specific installation piece is a quirky and playful response that describes the surface planes, which comprises this transitional space. In this case the space is an enigmatic tunnel-like corridor connecting two galleries at the MOCA. Apparently the viewer’s vantage point is like a hotdog with ketchup, mustard and pickle on top (the works).

Interestingly, White uses points and lines to construct the word “pickle” along with the other condiments in an emphatic, physical, and expressive way.

The MOCA documentation tag gives a brief artist statement:

Der Wërks deals with transitions; it marks the passage between spaces and textures, generations and approaches — all loosely processed through the matrix of an abstracted hot dog, Each space is a puzzle; it’s the contingencies of the puzzle that interest me.

The Artist’s Museum logotype designed by Pae White — here’s a link to the color version.

Ms. White is a highly versatile artist and seems to ignore the traditional borders between the applied and fine arts. As a graphic designer she developed the graphic identity for MOCA’s large artists group exhibition The Artist’s Museum in 2010-11.

White, who lives and works in Los Angeles, was born in Pasadena, California, in 1963. She earned her M.F.A. degree at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, in 1991.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dordt Alumni in Design: Taylor Van Kley

Portfolio: 2011 Catalog Cover

ICS (Iowa Cutter Supply) Logo Ideas

Truck Trailer Graphics

We recently asked Taylor Van Kley to be featured as a Dordt alumni working in design. Taylor kindly submitted the following:

I graduated in May of 2005 with a B.A. in Art: Graphic Design. I worked at KSOU Radio before landing my current job at Kooima Company® in February of 2007. Kooima Company is a manufacturing plant located in Rock Valley, Iowa. About 120 people are employed there. One side of their business deals with laser cutting and metal fabricating, and the other side makes agricultural replacement parts. I am the only graphic designer at Kooima Company, so I do designs for both sides of the company even though I am considered a member of the Ag Department.

I use a variety of programs, including the Adobe Creative Suite 5, QuarkXPress, iMovie, and more to make flyers, catalogs, brochures, business cards, signs, semi trailer graphics, and anything else they need designed. The Ag catalog is probably the most time consuming project that I work on. I also do photography and videography for the company. Kooima has two websites, one of which I designed from scratch with HTML. Here’s a link to the website for the laser cutting/job shop side. The Ag Department has their own website and I keep the Ag site updated using a built-in content editor.

Last year, Kooima Company helped another ag business get started. The new business is known as Iowa Cutter Supply, a supplier of used forage harvester parts. I was able to make some designs for them, including a logo (shown above).

Outside of work, I recently finished a new website for my home church (Central Reformed Church in Sioux Center, Iowa). The pastor told me to keep it simple, so that is what I did. You can see it here: If you would like to see more of my work, please see my portfolio. The site contains a few additional and interesting side projects.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

architectural block type: Newkirk, Iowa

photograph by versluis © 2011

Here’s an interesting example of a local 70 years old architectural block type style with nice letter spacing. The name is found on a dilapidated, obsolete public school building located in the very small crossroads (Dutch Reformed) settlement of Newkirk, Iowa (organized in 1882 as North Orange; Sioux County, Holland Township). The auditorium was added to the older classroom building in 1941. The addition was a community project constructed by the WPA (Works Projects Administration). And the building suggests very conservative Art Deco styling with streamlines as indicated by the photograph above.

In this case individual sans serif block style letters made of wood or hard rubber are cleverly adhered in reverse, on the inside surface of the wall formwork, as molds for the reinforced concrete. Once the poured concrete has hardened and the forms removed — the result is a “cast-in-place” sign, which produces the appearance of incised letters chiseled in stone. With this process there’s more than meets the eye. For example, the width of the letter stroke determines the depth of the letter as well as the angle of the bevel. This slight bevel helps to pull the letter molds out of the concrete and makes the edges stronger and helps prevent spalling.

“Architectural type has to compromise between materials and legibility.” [1]
  1. Spiekermann, Erik, and E. M. Ginger. Stop Stealing Sheep & find out how type really works. 2nd ed. Berkeley: Adobe Press, 2003. 73. Print.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

sliced, uppercase typography = a noisy rebelliousness—a hint of disrespect

photograph by versluis, 2011

This framed piece was photographed at the recent Art in the Streets exhibition in Los Angeles and indicates the upper portion of a Polish poster for “Beautiful Losers: Sztuka współczesna i kultura ulicy.” This poster was a promotional piece when the “Beautiful Losers” exhibition was displayed at the Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz, Poland during May–August 2007.

As an identity “Beautiful Losers” uses a striking logotype, which was initially developed by Iconoclast Editions in 2004 for a multimedia project about “skateboarder/gang/graffiti art.” The design of the logotype fittingly utilizes sliced, uppercase typography that connotes a noisy rebelliousness with a hint of disrespect. The project, “Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture” became a global touring exhibition along with an art book catalog and seems to have been the prototype for MOCA’s Art in the Streets show this year. An acclaimed documentary film, titled Beautiful Losers was produced in 2008, which featured many of the participating artists. Here’s The New York Times review of the movie (the comments are interesting too). And another movie review from the Guardian UK.

Here is a description about “Beautiful Losers” from Iconoclast, which collaborated with the artists to produce the traveling exhibition and catalog:

Beautiful Losers is an exhibition of multi-media art and design that explores the recent work of a diverse group of visual artists that have emerged from the subcultures of skateboarding, graffiti, punk, and hip hop in U.S. urban centers. The core of the project involves painting, sculpture, and photography, as well as film, video, performance, and product design by more than thirty individuals who have emerged in the last decade—some now established figures in the art world, but many receiving their first broad exposure here. [1]
  1. Beautiful Losers: “Press Release.” Iconoclast Editions. Iconoclast, 2004. Web. 11 Aug. 2011.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Steve Frykholm: Herman Miller Summer Picnic Posters (1970-1989)—Dordt College Campus Center Art Gallery

above: Steve Frykholm, courtesy of Herman Miller, used with permission
below: Show installation photograph by versluis, 2011

The Dordt College Campus Center Art Gallery (the department of art and design) proudly presents the exhibition:

Steve Frykholm, serigraphs
Herman Miller Summer Picnic Posters, 1970–1989
August 1 – October 2

On display are 20 posters from the Roger and Jeanne Knop collection, Muskegon, Michigan.

Herman Miller (located in Zeeland, Michigan) is known for their innovative furniture designs. Each year a poster is designed to promote the Herman Miller annual company picnic. This exhibition features, chronologically, the first twenty posters, which were designed by Steve Frykholm. The first poster, designed in 1970, started this wonderful series of serigraphs (silkscreen prints) and graphic design. The posters feature super-sized items like ice cream cones, cake, and fruit to illustrate the summer picnic theme. Several of Frykholm’s Summer Picnic posters are in the permanent collections of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Smithsonian, Washington DC.

Steve Frykholm has worked for Herman Miller for over 40 years. He is the creative director and vice president of design for the National Design Award-winning furniture company. In an illustrious career he has worn many hats: designer, art director, artist and client. His work has been widely published and has been included in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and Danish Museum of Decorative Art. In 2010 he was awarded the AIGA Medal, which is the AIGA’s highest award.

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