Jay Perdue Lecture

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.


Lamp and Blanket

My lamp and my blanket make up my homework area, which I interact with on a daily basis. I tend to surround my self with objects that have a minimalist design, meaning: stream line shape, organic line, solid color (usually pastels), little pattern, no ornamentation, symmetrical, well proportioned, and made of recycled materials. In particular my lap is white and black with a cylindrical shade and a simple base. My blanket is a lavender color with tiny flowers embroidered at one end. I interact with these object positively; I love them! I like these objects because they do a task, creating light and keeping me warm. If they were made of a different material they could be defective in their task. I think design can have a lot to do with functionality of an object, but in this case the design has only to do with how much I love them, not so much functionality. The materials of the objects are very important. The lamp is made of recycled metal and canvas and the blanket is made of recycled plastic bottles. So in this case environmental awareness was very important to the objects and to my self. I would say that these objects reflect my personality because I like things to be very symmetrical and clean. I really like minimalist design because it only uses something to make the message clear and nothing else.

Update on Letterpress Project

So far I have been able to get into the letterpress at the University of Tennessee, where I put together 3 different compositions. One is a quote with a variety of fonts; another is a simple abstract mix of fonts ; the last is the title “dada” repeated over itself (shown in the sketches). I think these three show the range of Jack Stauffacher’s work from his abstracted book covers to structured layouts. As far as text I tried to mix serif with sanserif where is was appropriate. I also used a mix of lead type with wood type. I was really limited to the type at the press and what I was able to put together in such a short period. I was very conscious about the hierarchy of the pieces, because Stauffacher’s work had a very distinct structure. The size of the finished pieces will be determined by the size and color available at the press, but I’ve peeked at a few examples that are 8 by 10 and 11 by 17, which would be similar to the sizes Stauffacher works with. I’m still experimenting with color, but I’m trying to stick to a bright, primary, highlighting color for emphasis rather than over all color or colored paper. I’m really excited to mix my own ink, which means I’m in full control of the color of every piece. Luckily I have colored paper, as well as other paper available at the press.  I’m also going to work with different strengths of paper to see how the press affects the integrity of the paper such as newsprint, construction paper, and printing paper. As far as displaying the pieces, I still want to show all the pieces I complete because I want this project to be about the process rather than the perfection of printing. I also just really like how the prints are turning out! I think it will be interesting to show people the process of how I printed each piece. I’m really happy so far!

Margaret MacDonald-Mackintosh


Feminine Design

I think many people view feminine design as anything to do with curls, floral patterns, or delicate subjects. I feel like feminine design is so much more than that. I think female designers or what people perceive as female design is characterized by primarily female figures, warm colors, rounded treatment of text and images, delicate subjects, detail and value. In the example images above you can clearly see the differences in male and female design. Male design is cold, simple, minimal color, angular lines, two dimensional. The characteristics for each gender that is seen in design is derived directly from our society. Women are supposed to be warm, delicate, organic figures, while men are supposed to be strong, stable, and plain. In relation to Margaret MacDonald, she clearly falls into the category of feminine design because of her flamboyant figures, warm colors, rounded figures, even the way she painted seemed delicate.

Edward Penfield

Edward Penfield


Morris Fuller Benton

Morris F Benton

He trained with his father as a mechanic and engineer. He later joined the American Type Founders (ATF), where he became a famous type designer and the in house designer. His father invented the panotgraphic engraving machine, which was not only capable of scaling a single font to a variety of sizes, but it could also condense, extend, and slant the design, with his father, he was able to refine the process to amazing precision.

He was an amazing typographer and very influential, even today. Look up your favorite font and I bet Benton either created it or inspired it.