I have finally finished my thesis and my senior show! It was such an incredible journey. I’m proud to announce my thesis has been selected as an exemplary senior study!
Archive for the ‘Design’ Category
It’s nearly that time! Mark your calendars for next Monday at 6pm! There will be refreshments and wonderful art work!
Jay Perdue of Perdue Creative in Memphis, Tennessee gave a fantastic lecture for the AIGA Knoxville chapter at the Knoxville Museum of Art about sustainability (ability to sustain long term maintenance of the relationship between living and nonliving materials). I’m a sucker for earth related lectures, even more so when it’s in relationship to my field of study. I’ve heard many lectures about sustainability, but I think this one was different because he didn’t focus on design, but on business. Although he was accompanied by amazing graphics. He had one of the most interesting power points I’ve ever seen! I’m always impressed by beautiful presentations. It was also probably the shortest lectures I’ve been to, including collegiate classes.
In a nut shell, Perdue talked about a few principles that businesses should implement: virtue, accountable, usable, quantifiable, charitable, likable, remarkable, and adaptable. He said in order to be sustainable in a business, you have to give value and meaning to each project and each client. You have to make the client feel special. You have to be responsible. When you say you are going to do a project, do it to your best ability. You have to give attention to each client, and serve a function. Make their important project your priority. You have to establish and articulate a meaning for each project. You have to help the client decide what is the right choice for their project and, in a larger sense, their business. He also touched on an interesting subject of pro-bono work. You don’t have to do for “free work” only for “good work.” You have to create a sliding scale for clients so that you can help each company promote good design and good principles. He also mentioned that he had turned down a few projects because of “artistic differences.” In this day and age it’s nice to know that you don’t have to take any and every job in order to pay the bills. You have to make yourself desirable in order to be able to distinguish your personal design ethnics. It’s really important to me to have clients that have a similar perspective as I do, or at least open to the idea of sustainability. Perdue continued with the idea of likability. He said you need to be likable not only to your co-workers, but your clients. You have to be someone people want to work with. You have to standout amongst your competitors. You also have to be able to change in an every changing environment. You have to become a luxury rather than a dinosaur, keeping up with technology and social expectations. Perdue basically said that all these things make your business sustainable. All of these elements would make your business not only environmentally sustainable, but economically sustainable. He didn’t talk much about how you can physically be sustainable, but how you can be sustainable in a community.
Something I thought was interesting was that he did most of this education on the job. Of course, the things he learned in college weren’t applicable in a digital world, but he was able to adapt his skills that he knew into something he could learn. He pretty much taught himself all the skills he uses today.
Another interesting fact: Perdue Creative, this designer’s name sake, is only three people! It always surprises me when you see really great design come from small companies. They’re so small that they work out of Perdue’s guest house on an acre property in Memphis. Perdue joked that he only had a 27 step commute, which is the another bonus for the environment. He also has a certified wildlife reserve on his property, which is pretty impressive. He and his family are doing their part to preserve the environment around them.
He also mentioned that you should always let the client think they thought of the good ideas. I think that’s an interesting concept. In my experience, I’ve been able to encourage clients toward a certain creative route, but I’ve never been able to convince a client to pick what I felt was the “best” option, much less let them think it was their idea. I have a lot to learn from Perdue.
I haven’t been able to work with the press yet, but I have a good idea of the primary type I want to use and the size. I have noticed that Jack Stauffacher (the printer I’m researching) mixes serif and sans serif fonts. His favorite font was Janson, so I would like to find something similar. Depending on what is available for the press, again I haven’t been able to explore yet, I’d like to mainly work with a smaller 10 point serif combined with a larger 20 point sans serif font. Stauffacher mainly used wooden type, but I have a feeling I’ll need to mix metal and wood, if I can even use wood type. I also want to explore the use of a display type, printed large as an abstract shape rather than a specific letter. Stauffacher tended to use letters in multiple orientations, upside down, sideways, and inverted. I can’t wait to see how that turns out!
As far as paper, I really want to explore printing of multiple different forms, newspaper, 50 pound paper, 100 pound paper, magazine paper, recycled paper, and FSC certified paper for the finished products. For size, I’d like to work with 11 by 17 to ensure negative space and the size of the display type.
I’ll be working with the Excelsior press, the smaller of the presses. Stauffacher used a Chandler and Price, which is also here at Maryville but harder to work with for a new printer.
For color options, I really would like to stick to black and white while I’m focusing on the typography. When I complete the set of prints to mimic Stauffacher I would like to use color selectively to draw attention to a specific part of the piece. I still want this project to focus of the process of the press and the creative process of typography.
The more I explore the use of type, I think I will need a subject. Stauffacher mainly designed covers of books and journals, so I will take modern journals and books and develop a new cover with Stauffacher’s style.
For my semester project I’d like to do a creative project that incorporates the research of a designer with an interesting visual element rather than simply writing a paper. I really want to look more into Jack Stauffacher, who is a contemporary self-taught designer, and his revolutionary work with the printing press. As I was looking through the winners of the AIGA’s Medal, I found his work. He won the AIGA Medal in 2004 for his work with typography and the printing press. Stauffacher was such a great printer that he printed his first book in his early twenties! Another fun fact is that his favorite font is the Dutch Janson. He went on to be a professor at Carnegie Institute for Art and Design (what is now Carnegie Mellon) and the Art Institute of San Francisco. He was also the typographic director for the Stanford University Press. He later founded the Greenwood press in San Mateo, California in 1936. In 1955 he received the Fullbright grant, which allowed him to study in Florence for three years. There he met and studied master printers, Giovanni Mardersteig, and Alberto Tallone, who were major influences on Stauffacher’s work. He then reopened Greenwood Press in San Francisco and resumed printing limited edition copies of rare books. A great quote about Stauffacher comes from Chuck Byne in 1998: “Jack Stauffacher describes himself as a printer. It is a somewhat deceptive term for us today. His use of the term connects him to a five-hundred-year tradition of the entrepreneur-publisher-designer-typographer-printer. Like the best who made up that custom, he possesses a love of type and printing and the ability to convey meaningful words and thought.”
In this project, I’d want to see what style of work came out of the Greenwood press and how it differed or was similar to Stauffacher’s personal work. I also want to know how he trained people to see the way he views type. I also want to chronologically compare his work to see how he incorporated his influences and what periods he may have encountered. I really love his use of negative space and the playfulness in his work. I love it all! He also is known for his minimalistic approach to typography, which I also identify with. Minimalism is a style and a way to design using the phrase “less is more.” I really like how Stauffacher created beautiful pieces with very few letters and even small amounts of text that still conveyed a powerful meaning. I would really like to see how to use his methods of printing to create compositions like he does. In relationship to Stauffacher’s work, I would want to do a series of posters or a small book, working with typography on the printing press. I want to play with the type and see new ways of combining letters and fonts. I would love to really learn how to set type and the proper ways of printing with movable type. I’d really want this project to be more about exploration than knowing the exact finished product. I don’t get to play very often and I think this would be a great opportunity to learn about type and creativity, while developing my own style with the press and defining the project more with that perspective. With that said, I think I would want to do a series of “playful type” and a series of “premeditated type.” The playful type would show my chronological exploration with fonts, colors, hierarchy, placement, ect. In contrast the premeditated type would show how I imitate Stauffacher’s work based on my research and experiments with the press. He sticks to two fonts at most in one composition. He plays with the hierarchy which can challenge or aid readability. Stauffacher uses color selectively, as a way to draw attention and highlight an area. As far as the physical printing process, I would I would like to print on 11 by 17 FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper. I would also ideally want to use soy based or vegetable based inks, but I’m not sure if those would be available or affordable. But this whole idea kind of hinges on the fact that I would need to use the press. If I wasn’t able to use the press we have at MC, I might be able to use the one at UT. I just think if I try to replicate the process digitally with Illustrator, I’ll be losing a piece of Stauffacher’s process.
Here are a few sources I’ve been perusing through finding bits and pieces. But my research is going to be more about his style through prints and images. I have yet to find a good library of image sources.
My first project of the year: Mesopotamian&Persian Seals… They’re really interesting! I’ve included my slide presentation as well as my following notes:
Slide 1: The culture of Mesopotamian and Persia was one of individualism, ownership oriented, and just overall concerned with personal property. There for even commoners had these seals to identify themselves on their houses, documents, and even letters. This seal is made of a common stone and it was used as a signature rolled at the bottom of a document as a signature might be written today.
Slide 2: The seals were made to represent a specific person, so everyone’s was different and unique. Popular themes included mythology, such as a king talking to a god, or animals. Symmetry and geometric shapes were also important. This particular seal is made of a precious stone, which also indicates that it was a seal of an important person. The more rare the stone, and larger the seal, the higher your social standing.
Slide 3: Because Mesopotamian was constantly encountering different cultures through war or trade, they needed to be able to incorporate a method to distinguish individuals. The kings of Mesopotamia and Persia used the seal method as a was to authenticate laws through out the empire. Because seals are virtually impossible to forge, it was a good way to ensure the legitimacy of the laws. This seal was a kings due to the size and the specific stone. You can also see how the seal has a hole at the top, which meant this seal was worn as a bracelet or a necklace. As I said previously, social standing had a lot to do with how you showed your seal. If you were the king, you wore it every where you went, not only to show your power or status, but to ensure it’s safety.
Slide 4: This last slide is purely to show the evolution of seals, this is what the bottom of a seal would look like, a stamp if you will. Today this would be like a wax seal or a king’s signet ring. It becomes more individualized to the point of portraiture, like our coins or brand logos.