Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quotations on creativity—Victor D’Amico

Victor D’Amico. Photograph by David E. Scherman. From Mining Modern Museum Education: Briley Rasmussen on Victor D’Amico.

“The art work of children is important to the teacher insofar as it tells him about the child and helps him to keep alive the child’s imagination and also the will to express it. Experience, and not the product, is the precious aim of art education.” —Victor D’Amico.

D’Amico, Victor. Creative Teaching in Art, Scranton, PA: Revised edition, International Textbook Co.. 1953, p3.
In addition, the following quote also sounds like D’Amico, however, I can’t find the source:
“Unfortunately, in education, imagination is equated with ‘art’; art is equated with professional practice; those children who show some degree of achievement in one or other of the arts are labeled imaginative, and the closer their work is to the accepted criteria of good professional art then the more imaginative they are.”

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Monday, September 27, 2010

The AIGA Dordt College student group meeting with Erik Rodne

09/22/10: Erik Rodne—Visiting Print/Web Designer—Working [at] HenkinSchultz—Member of AIGA South Dakota. The following notes were submitted by Matt Van Rys, assistant adjunct in art (web design)—we thank Matt for an incredible job recording the minutes. Photograph by Andrew Hornor.

Job Search Tips:

  • From Graduation to Hired: Erik traveled to London, Norway and then back home.
  • Faced the cold shoulder when attempting to work in Britain—hiring a non-national can be a hassle.
  • However, Erik recommends shooting for the stars, as you will learn from any experience, even a failed one.
  • Another reminder is that your location doesn’t define you. Great designers create great work anywhere.
Interviewing Tips:
  • Ask questions about the company; practice with a sales job or by joining a debate team.
  • Dress up for the interview and then dress down within company policies after being hired.
  • Visit people and ask if they’ll look at your portfolio; exhibit a willingness to learn.
  • Have a confident character and trust in your skills.
Expectations for Graduates?
  • Try to have a good idea of who you are and what you can do. What will you bring to the table?
  • Consider Production Artist as a first job. Prepress and Production layout work will help you improve your technical skills. With better technical skills, you’ll be able to design high-end work at a pace that will impress your peers and management.
  • Be ready to solve other people’s visual/creative problems with your design solutions.
What about my Personal Style?
  • Sometimes having a personal style can be very helpful, especially if your style fits with a particular company.
  • However, sometimes it is better to show a potential employer that you can emulate many kinds of style, which would make you a good choice for an Advertising Agency or Graphic Design Agency.
Defined by Your Work:
  • Be a Designer as defined by your work, not your title. Many people claim the title of designer in various fields, but only a few can set themselves apart by executing unique and exciting design.
Choosing an Ad Agency:
  • Look for an agency that is design driven, not accounts driven and ask how close the designers are to clients.
  • Be ready to discuss how can you improve the Ad Agency’s business.
  • Not always a good hire for an Ad Agency, as it can be hard to get a read on a contract designer. Risky for the Agency.
  • Impress them with your initial work and hopefully get more work.
In-house Designer:
  • In house graphic designer work can be more cut and dry.
  • It also comes with challenges of working with people who are ignorant of the value of good design and/or have no concept of correctly creating a marketing budget.
Graphic Design HAS Value:
  • Remember that Graphic Design is ART 4 PAY. What you do is valuable, and when possible, don’t do it for free.
  • Consider unpaid internships when the networking or learning benefits are valuable enough to equate your time.
  • Art isn’t free, but it is often categorized as a tool of business by many business people; the management meat grinder—undervalues the abilities of truly original people—there is a price tag on everything.
Real World Design Challenges:
  • Real World design is filled with a different set of challenges then what you experience in the classroom.
  • Clients, coworkers, billings, mismanagement, project deadlines, faulty equipment, liability, useless meetings etc.
Difficult Clients:
  • Trouble clients are often not worth the trouble. Trouble clients cost a company lot of money and they may tell their friends, breeding other trouble clients.
  • The “Bosses Son Syndrome”—sometimes, the clients will ruin their own work. Fight back; for example: Ask the client how their logo speaks about the company, product and/or service. Make them think critically about their work.
What is Work Like?
  • Work is a lot like Office Space.
  • In the case of web projects, it’s often a process of maintaining sites that never finish. A website project can last forever in-between full redesigns.
  • A large portion of most design jobs is maintaining old work, but the new work is the diamond in the rough, making it all worth it. Sometimes projects die too though, even good ones.
  • Working with a small client can be very rewarding. Especially creating a motif and applying it to a variety of media.
Favorite Projects?
  • Try to make your current project your favorite project.
  • New ideas and technologies: Ambigrams, Flash versus HTML5, intuitive content management etc.
Web Growth:
  • Huge growth industry, but most believe we will never see the end of print.
  • Digital content is necessary to be competitive and it is fast, however, everyone likes the tactile nature of print design and it will always be part of a good, comprehensive marketing strategy.
Avoid Burnout:
  • Find something(s) or someone(s) outside of work that helps take the edge off of the bustle.
  • Sometimes fine art can be a good extension; hobbies or traveling are other options.
Training: Practical, Perpetual and Self-Driven:
  • Better to be a “jack of all trades” versus a master of one, these days.
  • There used to be a time when a designer would do just one thing: illustrator, type designer, layout designer, artwork designer, photographer, videographer etc. Now, we often do it all, or at least a lot of it. So it doesn’t hurt to be a great print designer with some skills in photography and web design.
  • The cost of code: should I learn how to code as a graphic/web designer? The cost of a developer can be very expensive for a web project, so even a basic understanding of coding can help you avoid the cost and make more money on a simple web project.
  • Be tech savvy and understand that you are doing 5 people’s jobs. Have the confidence to charge a real rate.
  • Perpetual learning is important to improve yourself and stem off burnout, a sort of constant self-awareness. So spend time researching new techniques, trends in design, new typefaces, new technology, new software etc.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Dordt Alumni in Design: Rachel Sturing

I graduated in May 2002 with emphases in Graphic Design and Art History, and started working at The Mitographers in Sioux Falls, South Dakota that fall. It is a screen and digital printing company with around 70 employees and customers across the nation and overseas. Our main niche is decals for machinery manufacturing companies, but our digital printer is now running full time with large-scale wall, window, floor, and door graphics also.

When I started, there were 3-4 of us in the art department, but we now have five and keep very busy. Because we are primarily a pre-press department for screen-printing, I had to learn my way around building custom traps, bleeds, overprinting, press sheets, etc., very quickly, but that becomes second nature after a short time.

We work primarily in Adobe Illustrator to get the artwork ready for whichever press it is needed. We also set up how the printed parts will be cut when finished, either by ordering dies from one of our suppliers, or if it is too large like a banner or full-size person cutout, setting up the cut file for the digital cutting table.

The direction we get from customers can be anything from an e-mail explaining what they want, a hand drawn note, a CAD file from an engineer, or (if we are very lucky when in a hurry on a rush order) an Adobe Illustrator file with bleeds already set up! I really enjoy working with such a variety of customers because I like to design artwork for people, but I also enjoy the math and geometry that go into a very technical control panel that has to be exactly right.

And as so many of us art majors seem to do, I’ve also done some side projects that give me something different to work on—posters for concerts at church, senior/engagement pictures, and my latest one was a series of designs for a wedding including the invitations, programs, cake topper, window decal, and dance floor graphic.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

a nod to the architectural past—community service in the present

Bus Stop Project | Sioux City Transit
Design-Build Studio:
Instructor Jason Griffiths, Iowa State University, 2007. Jon Dykstra, Design Team Leader and Dordt class of 2006. Pictured is the bus stop location at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Jennings (Mercy Medical Center), Sioux City, Iowa. Photograph by versluis © 2010.

From his portfolio Dykstra states:

This project was a cooperative effort between ten students and the city of Sioux City, Iowa where I took the lead as project manager to design and manufacture two new bus stops. My involvement was assembly and installment of the steel structure.
The formal quality of the bus stop is a narrative of the disappearance of the buildings in Sioux City. The intent is to resurrect this memory on smaller scale bringing together the traditional, industrial, and architectural character of the city. The four generative design elements are distinct associations of the city.”
Jon is currently an Intern Architect at Neumann Monson Wictor Architects in Sioux City. Dykstra’s title is Junior Architect.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Quotations on creativity—Pablo Picasso

Picasso at La Californie, Cannes, France (1957; platinum/palladium print, 1974). Photographic portrait by Irving Penn. Courtesy of the Resource Library.

“When one begins a picture, one often discovers fine things. One ought to beware of these, destroy one’s picture, recreate it many times. On each destruction of a beautiful line, the artist does not suppress it, to tell the truth; rather he transforms it, condenses it, makes it more substantial. The issue is the result of rejected discoveries. Otherwise one becomes one’s own admirer. I sell myself nothing!” —Picasso

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Erik Rodne of HenkinSchultz—visiting designer at Dordt—will be here this Wednesday

Pomp and circumstance(s)
The AIGA Dordt College Student Group is very pleased to announce that our first visiting designer this year is Erik Rodne. Erik is currently a graphic designer (print + web) for HenkinSchultz Communication Arts in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He has won several awards for his design work.

Erik will be visiting this Wednesday September 22, 2010.

His evening presentation is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. in CL1223 and he’ll focus on the AIGA South Dakota and about his design practice. All those interested are invited to attend. In addition, Erik will a visiting designer/guest critic for the graphic design I class that afternoon. Those interested can stop by anytime between 12 noon to 1:50 p.m. in CL1310.

Erik describes himself as an honest, hard-working designer who effectively crafts visual solutions for print and web projects. He’s a strong proponent of developing a project brief to help further define the target, primary message and success of each project.

Rodne says, “More than type and image the spirit of graphic design is carried through this century in the craftsmanship of ideas. And as I craft my future I envision daily creative challenges met with outstanding visual solutions. I am interested in the skillful, the masterly, the articulate designs; I seek further insight into the essence of creative virtuosity and to further develop my own pneuma. Most all areas of this trade excite me especially typography and the creation of typefaces. Through a myriad of expressive possibilities coupled with precise attention to detail and craftsmanship I enjoy discovering that altogether higher level in the art of communication and public service.”

Erik is a 2008 alumnus of South Dakota State University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design and a minor in Computer Science.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

going for the “easy idea” and “referencing” without attribution.

Viewed clockwise top left to right—
Image source: Duchamp, Marcel. Self-Portrait in Profile. c.1958/c.1960s. By Lara Shirvinski. New York: Tout-Fait, the Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journ; Interviews, 2002. n.pag. Web. 16 Sept. 2010.
Note: Arturo Schwarz writes in his The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp that, “Occasionally Duchamp repeated this hand-torn collage, in a unique example, for friends, inscribed Marcel dechiravit pour… (followed by the name of the receiver).” Published by Harry N. Abrams Inc., New York. 1970. 532.
Image source: Glaser, Milton. Bob Dylan Poster. 1967. The National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC. Web. 15 Sept. 2010
Image source: Frauenfelder, Mark. “Milton Glaser weighs in on Shepard Fairey’s Obama Hope poster.” boingboing. n.pag., 9 Feb. 2009. Web. 15 Sept. 2010.

The topic of Shepard Fairey’s use of an Associated Press photo of Barack Obama as a “reference” for his infamous 2008 poster has been discussed extensively in various media. However, I wanted to actually do a comparison by juxtaposing Duchamp’s self portrait, using the image from an academic source, and Milton Glaser’s vintage Dylan poster while also showing Fairey’s poster compared to the AP photograph. Obviously, in the Dylan poster Glaser was inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s 1958 self-portrait.

In an interview for Print Glaser was critical of Fairey’s poster for not going far enough to make it his own work. Here’s part of the interview:
… How does one distinguish between plagiarism and reference?

…For myself—this is subjective—I find the relationship between Fairey’s work and his sources discomforting. Nothing substantial has been added. In my own case, when I did the Dylan poster, I acknowledged using Duchamp’s profile as an influence. I think unless you’re modifying it and making it your own, you’re on very tenuous ground. It’s a dangerous example for students, if they see that appropriating people’s work is the path to success. Simply reproducing the work of others robs you of your imagination and form-making abilities. You’re not developing the muscularity you need to invent your own ideas.…
The crux of Glaser’s comments in Print is the notion of the “easy idea” and “referencing” without attribution. Glaser in critiquing Fairely’s poster makes a valid point when he states, “Simply reproducing the work of others robs you of your imagination and form-making abilities. You’re not developing the muscularity you need to invent your own ideas.” This general comment, particularly “developing muscularity” seems to be something that students and beginning graphic designers need to always consider simply as a matter of integrity.

For an alternative perspective to Glaser’s comments see Mark Frauenfelder’s piece in BoingBoing (read the interesting comments too).

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Letters as musical notation and tempo—Paul Standard

Calligraphic Salutations: Hermann Zapf's Letterheadings to Paul Standard
Cover and colophon. Images courtesy of R.I.T., Cary Graphic Arts Press.

“The change from italic into roman script is a change from dynamic to static, from movement to repose. An italic letter is written with as few pen-lifts as possible, its cursive nature demanding running or flowing strokes. A roman letter is an assembled affair, the strokes of the edged pen here building an upright letter in any convenient number and sequence of strokes. In structural style, italic is legato, bound or linked together as by advancing current; whereas the roman is marcato, incisively demarcated and composed of kindred elements. Like italic, the roman letter has its special rhythm, a rhythm firm yet placid and assured, but its vertical stance makes the roman letter proceed lento or adagio as against italic’s allegro. —Paul Standard

Standard, Paul. Letter, Word and Page. New York: Cooper Union Art School, c.1956. N. pag. C.U.A.S., the Graphic Workshop Project of the Cooper Union Art School. Ser. 4. Print.

With special thanks to Mr. Stan Kaplan, Levittown, New York

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Quotations on creativity—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Image © 2010 iStockphoto, all rights reserved

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Authors, Famous Americans Issue, 1940
Postage stamp with cancellation mark
Denomination: 3¢
Medium: paper; ink (bright red violet) / engraving
U.S.A., Bureau of Engraving and Printing

“This power of imagination, the making of some familiar object, as fire or rain or a bucket or a shovel, do a new duty as an exponent of some truth or general law, bewitches and delights men. It is a taking of dead sticks and clothing them about with immortality; it is music out of creaking and groaning. All opaque things are transparent and the light of heaven struggles through.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson, Edward Waldo, and Waldo Emerson Forbes, eds. Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Vol. 9. Journal 51, 1860. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company and The Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1913. 277-78. Google Books. Web. 10 Sept. 2010. (From journal entry titled “Imagination.”) [development of the “individual”]

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

versatile and entrepreneurial—Leanne Shapton

Style & Design: The Design 100—Summer 2008 Supplement to TIME.
Editor: Kate Betts
Design Director: Henry Connell
Illustration: Leanne Shapton
Publisher: TIME
From the collection of David Versluis

On the cover for this supplement to TIME magazine is an illustration by Leanne Shapton. In this piece Shapton responds to and interprets a [“Tripods”] lamp (see below) by Finnish designer Janne Kyttänen, which he did for Freedom of Creation. According to the designer the lamp was inspired by the coneflower.

Especially noteworthy is that Leanne Shapton, a graphic designer, illustrator, and writer, was listed first in TIME's The Design 100, which featured “the people and ideas behind today’s most influential design.” The lead-in statement to The Design 100 showcase states: “Great design is no longer reserved solely for museum–worthy products, as multitasking designers turn their attention to everything from books to artisanal food, and from lighting to transportation.”

Editor Kate Betts states, “In the tradition of versatile designers, Canadian-born Shapton not only designs book covers (and, incidentally, the cover of this magazine) but also writes and illustrates books, including Was She Pretty?, a collection of stories published in 2006. A former art director for Toronto-based Saturday Night, Shapton now draws illustrations for magazines, designs textiles, paints and edits an imprint, J&L Books, specializing in art and photography books.”

Shapton’s drawings and graphic design consists of brush and ink on paper accompanied by hand lettered text. Each hand drawn illustration and images seems to convey a strong personal touch. Her images humanize and resonate organically with physical characteristics while utilizing digital technology production techniques.

It’s interesting that this optimistic issue was published in the summer 2008 and just a few months before the failure of some very large U.S. financial corporations that Fall. Perhaps as economic issues continue—we’d like to see a follow-up The Design 100 issue come out soon.

Table Light (610_Table)
Designer: Janne Kyttänen 2005
Color: (Shade/Base) White/Black
Shade material: Laser Sintered Polyamide
Pole material: Powder coated stainless steel

Product photograph

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Graphic Design and Postmodernism—Edward Fella

Nu-Bodies / Mark Tucker / R. Tim Miller / Linda Kennedy / Susan Carman
Mailer / Poster, front and back, 1987, offset lithograph on warm gray 60# bond,
11"x17" / two-folds / two-sides / one-color
Designer: Edward Fella
Publisher: Detroit Focus Gallery
From the collection of David Versluis

Quoting Ed Fella:
“… I’ve been around since the late ’50s. I spent 30 years as a ‘hack’ in the Detroit commercial artist business. I was an advertising designer, illustrator, I did lettering, all sorts of things. But I also did a body of work outside the professional work in the studio system, which was the more experimental stuff, either self-published or published to promote artists and photographers; what’s now called ‘personal’ or ‘cultural’ graphics.”
“An Interview with Ed Fella.” Fella, Edward. Interview by Michael Dooley. Emigre 30 (1994). Print.

A statement from writer and editor Steven Heller:

“Fella began his career as a commercial artist, became a guest critic at Cranbrook and later enrolled as a graduate student, imbuing in other students an appreciation for the naif (or folk) traditions of commercial culture. He ‘convincingly deployed highly personal art based imagery and typography in his design for the public,’ explains Lorrine Wild in her essay Transgression and Delight: Graphic Design at Cranbrook (Cranbrook Design: the New Discourse, 1990).”
Heller, Steven. “The Cult of the Ugly.” Eye Magazine, No. 9, Vol. 3 1993. Print.

Vince Carducci in his 2007 AIGA medalist’s honoree article writes:

“… Just how innovative was his work? Even before Adobe had figured out how to kern digital fonts, Fella was deconstructing lines of copy, modifying typefaces (turning Bembo into Bimbo by hacking off the serifs, to cite one example) and jumbling them up. Not for another decade would desktop publishing achieve anywhere near the eye-bending effects Fella was getting with copy-camera Photostats and X-Acto knives.…”
Carducci, Vince. "Medalists: Ed Fella." AIGA. AIGA | the professional association for design, 2007. Web. 3 Sept. 2010.

Ellen Lupton and Abbott Miller wrote in 1996:
“The work of Ed Fella has broadly influenced recent developments in type design. Fella’s posters for the Detroit Focus Gallery, produced between 1987 and 1990, feature damaged and defective forms—from third-generation photocopies to broken pieces of transfer type. These imperfect elements are meticulously assembled by hand into free form compositions. Fella’s experiments inspired other designers to construct digital fonts with battered features and hybrid origins.”
Lupton, Ellen, and J. Abbott Miller. Design Writing Research: Writing on Graphic Design. London: Phaidon, 1996. Print.

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