Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sabbatical at Thirst (3st) is drawing to a close—a final report

A Thirst staff meeting and group portrait, starting left, clockwise: Rick Valicenti, founder and design director, John Pobojewski, Cameron Brand, Romain Andre, Bud Rodecker, Baozhen Li, and Robyn Paprocki. Barbara Valicenti, Rick’s sister, is present via Skype. Photograph by versluis, 23 April 2012.

Three months ago Rick Valicenti asked me what my objective was for being at Thirst—what did I hope to accomplish while at the studio? At the time I had no specific agenda, although I was hoping to observe, absorb, and contribute collaboratively in the design process at Thirst. Mainly I was seeking the experience of being a part of a world-class design practice to help better inform my teaching practice.

It seemed that the best way to remain current in the changing field of graphic design was to be away from the classroom responsibilities and to actually be present with a dedicated and energetic design team.

As my time here comes to a close, I feel that most of what I was hoping to experience at Thirst has come to pass, mainly in the form of many interesting projects (several have been highlighted earlier). The most recent project I’ve been working on, during the last several weeks, has been organizing Thirst’s fall 2012 exhibition at Bowling Green State University (Valicenti is a graduate of BGSU). I’ve curated the most recent body of Thirst’s work in order to develop scale floor plans and elevation views for the exhibition.

Since my last report I have met some very interesting people who have either passed through the studio or have connections to Rick. One such person was Ed Schweitzer, Incognito Design. I also was introduced to Chicago design legend, Gene Bellini who with his wife, Kathy was attending an art auction at Wright. Gene is credited for designing the iconic Bullseye mark and symbol for Target. I had a particularly interesting conversation with the smart and inquisitive Rob Giampietro who was in Chicago as a featured speaker for AIGA Chicago’s initial Design Thinking series. Rob came to visit Thirst and was hosted and given a studio tour by his friend John Pobojewski.

On 18 April I presented a talk to the art department faculty (John Bakker, Ellen Browning, and Dr. Lou Systma) and about 20-25 interested students at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois. It was a wonderful time. The event promoted me as being the “founder of Trinity’s Design Office and Design Program,” which I considered an honor and greatly appreciated. A portion of my talk reinforced the essential need for students to know typography and grid structure by showing Thirst’s Contract magazine redesign as a case study.

For an extra-curricular event I attended the melodic, yet Dada-like concert by Matt Carlson who performed with full control of his modular synth—amazing. The event was hosted by Lampo at the Graham Foundation.

On 27 April I’ll head to the Smart Museum of Art on the University of Chicago’s campus
for the official launch party of Graze magazine. Graze was art directed and designed by Dordt alumna Sarah Franken and the first issue will be available at the event. Congratulations Sarah—we’re proud of you!

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