In big news, we updated Kimbo, our plug-in for Illustrator so that it is compatible with Illustrator CC 2014. There’s a free demo on the site, and it’ll make any hardcore user of Illustrator breathe a sigh of sweet, sweet relief with its combination of vector cutting, mirroring, and pattern design tools.
I have an story in issue #24 of Slanted, an issue devoted entirely to Istanbul, Turkey.
Istanbul – the city on the Bosphorus – is famous for its countless minarets, magnificent palaces, colorful markets and traders, seagulls and stray cats. Istanbul is the only metropolis in the world that unites two continents. Traditional crafts collide with a young and blossoming art and design scene, which is slowly changing the face and image of the city.
Slanted takes a close-up look at contemporary design work and all the tumultuous developments in this cultural melting pot city balanced between the Orient and the Occident. On their one-week-trip the Slanted team met 15 design studios and produced comprehensive studio portraits which provide a vivid and up-to-the-minute picture of the scene. Thanks to Augmented Reality and the Junaio app, readers can easily watch embedded videos of the Istanbul turu on mobile devices.
The story I contributed is called “The Martyrdom of Ivram Islander” and is the tale of the future of a world where both humankind and graphic design education are in stasis—a form of suspended animation that pervades culture as much as is representative of it. The story is part graphic design criticism and part science fiction.
Evrim Aslaner was listening to a collection of murky live recordings of a seminal, late-1980s hardcore band from the American Midwest via headphones on the crosstown train. Some songs were clearer than others, though the differentiation was marginal at best. It was obvious that none of the recordings utilized the mixing boards at the VFW Halls and crappy, tiny venues where they were recorded—perhaps just a handheld tape recorder, or on the more clear ones, a condenser mic, fed into a tape recorder precariously situated in the back of whatever club a fledgling promoter had happened to acquire for the night, 130 years ago and on the other side of the world.
The sound itself was a vaguely polyrhythmic, distorted dirge — all low-end rumble with the occasional Skexis-like feedback squeal overriding momentarily. The vocals—a muffled, staccato Chewbacca-esque cadenced war rant — were delivered unintelligibly, though with the mealy mouthed venom of so many young men of that bygone age that Evrim was currently fascinated with. The only clearly identifiable instrument was the reverberating crash cymbal, the rest was reduced to a two-minute-long semaphore-like aural wet fart of dissonance and rumble.
Evrim’s immersion in the dense music was sharply interrupted by a figure entering the hovertram at the Bestiktas Square stop. Anyone at all riding the hovertram was an anomaly these days. Same with the library. Ditto for the food vendroid stands. The last of the humans, still venturing out-of-doors, were trickling out. Good weather, civic events, “live” music, none of these drew more than a handful of malcontents anymore. That being said, Evrim was continually surprised that the city’s hovertram continued to run—one of the last remaining symbols of the final administration’s promise that auto-piloted public transport would run 24 hours a day for the rest of eternity, with no need for cleaning, maintenance or repairs. He was glad it hadn’t stopped; without it, he’d be forced to sullenly walk halfway across Istanbul to the library.
This was the third time that Halil Ergün’s facsimile had gotten on the same train as Evrim. It was weird. When the previous administration had deployed its convoy of cyborg replications of movie stars, television personalities, and other historical figures of note, they were wildly popular with the then-ambulatory populace for a few months, but quickly fell from prominence. When members of the human public asked the replicas of the stars about their inner feelings, the cyborgs would quip something nonsensical or re-quote a well-known snippet of history. It became obvious that their personalities were merely cross-indexed databases of suggested behaviors, based on their media personas, not the original stars’ true personalities. It didn’t help that their “faces” were internally projected in a Tony Oursler-esque fashion within their ovoid heads much, either. Real people found that they had little to gain from the simulacra, most already being innately familiar with retro culture due to telechip implants. Otaku-like super-fans were able to stump the cyborgs by grilling them with intense amounts of trivia and barrages of detailed questions about covert activities of the stars’ lives that occurred during their original, wholly organic incarnations.
I’m trying something new in my Computer Imaging 2 class at Temple University Japan—a collaboration with another school on another continent. We’re calling it “Ping Pong: Tokyo vs. Karlsruhe”. HfG Karlsruhe faculty member Sereina Rothenberger (of Hammer!) and I have come up with a potentially interesting way of getting our students to engage with typography and teaching—namely, by making project a project assignment for one another.
Here is the text we have supplied to our respective students:
You must make a project brief and supply it to the student/student(s) of the other university.
You get to make up the project.
The only parameters are:
– Your project must contain type & image
– Your project must relate to your immediate locale—where
you are currently geolocated.
– The project must be printed
– You must introduce yourselves to one another and present the project to one another in a designed format after reviewing
with the faculty in your institution.
Ian and Sereina will be doing their utmost to get the work published in a number of international graphic design publications, so the pressure is on, baby! Make it look delicious!
– Hifana: Hanabeam
– Halcali: Endless Summer
– Nitro Microphone Underground:
Still Shinin’ All Day
– Kraftwerk: Trans Europa
– Rödelheim Hartreim Projekt:
Wenn es nicht hart ist
– Richard Wagner: Walkürenritt
Now, Sereina and I just have to cool our heels and wait for the results! (Not really—we’re proactive teachers—we’ll be coaching and cajoling and keeping the tissue box handy for the inevitable transPacific tears.)
Iggy is a set of fonts perfect for that punky, skatery vibe. Both fonts have 4 complete sets of stylistic alternates for letters and numbers, European language support galore, evoke the late 80s heyday of skateboarding and hardcore punk rock and thrash.
Just returned from a week in Vermont at Vermont College of Fine Arts where we had yet another amazing week of presentations, lectures, and critiques. Our visiting critics this time around were Chris Ro from Hongik University in Seoul, Yunim Kim from Kookmin Univesity in Seoul, and Eddie Opara, one of the partners in Pentagram’s New York office. Pictured above are our twelve new MFA graduates – check out their MFA exhibition here.
In other news, Néojaponisme launched some new content.
We have some work in the latest edition of the Los Logos series, the best-selling graphic design books of all time, nominally Los Logos Number 7, available now from Die Gestalten Verlag.
We’re back from a fabulous vacation in Europe where we got to spend some time relaxing and brainstorming with friends across the continent, including folks from fabulous design studios like Norm, Tuba, Studio Uleshka, Hammer, Fontseek, great artists and curators like Shirana Shahbazi and Tirdad Zolghadr and the team at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich, our great pal Lars from Slanted, the team at MoreTrax, and lots of other folks. Many thanks to all of our hosts and friends new and old!
A few projects were released while we were gone, but the most notable is Somebody – an app created by Miranda July with our pal Thea Lorentzen and sponsored by Miu Miu, available in the iTunes store as a free download (iOS only).
We handled a bunch of the font production for the app, helping to extend Thea’s two great headline fonts to handle multi-lingual support, as well as providing the text typefaces used within the app itself.
When you send your friend a message through Somebody, it goes — not to your friend — but to the Somebody user nearest your friend. This person (probably a stranger) delivers the message verbally, acting as your stand-in. The app launched at the Venice Film Festival along with a short companion film, part of Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales series.
Since Somebody is brand new, early adapters are integral to its creation – the most high-tech part of the app is not in the phone, it’s in the users who dare to deliver a message to stranger. “I see this as far-reaching public art project, inciting performance and conversation about the value of inefficiency and risk,” says July.
Somebody works best with a critical mass of users in a given area; colleges, workplaces, parties and concerts can become Somebody hotspots simply by designating themselves as one (details on somebodyapp.com).
Official Somebody hotspots so far include Los Angeles County Museum of Art (with a presentation by Ms. July on Sept. 11), The New Museum (presentation on Oct. 9), Yerba Buena Center for The Arts (San Francisco), Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and Museo Jumex (Mexico City.) Museum-goers are invited to send and deliver messages in these spaces where there are likely to be other users.
Half-app / half-human, Somebody twists our love of avatars and outsourcing —every relationship becomes a three-way. The antithesis of the utilitarian efficiency that tech promises, here, finally, is an app that makes us nervous, giddy, and alert to the people around us.
“When you can’t be there… Somebody can.”
Visit somebodyapp.com for movie, media kit and details.
Some other big news:
Join VCFA at Meet-Ups in Portland, Seattle and Brooklyn!
VCFA Graphic Design MFA faculty and staff are hitting the road in September and we’re hosting several gatherings for alumni, faculty, students and prospective students. These gatherings are a chance to get together with VCFAers to talk about your craft, share memories, have fun and meet new friends.
Please join us for one (or more!) of these informal meet-ups:
Friday, September 12 at 6:00 pm
210 Nw 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97209
Academic Dean and GD faculty member Matt Monk
Graphic Design Faculty Yoon Soo Lee
Director of Student Recruitment Ann Cardinal ’07 W
Monday, September 15th at 7:00 pm
The board room and faculty/staff lounge
7th Floor, Main Campus Building
Cornish College of the Arts
1000 Lenora St., Seattle WA 98121
Academic Dean and GD faculty member Matt Monk
Graphic Design Faculty Yoon Soo Lee
Graphic Design Faculty Natalia Ilyin
Director of Student Recruitment Ann Cardinal ’07 W
TaDa! Opening Celebration
Saturday, August 9, 2014
116 Pleasant Street, Easthampton, MA
25 conceptual graphic designers from Vermont College of Fine Arts’ graduate program visualize “TaDa!” as graphic design using varied media, sizes, dimensionality, and styles.
The Masters of Graphic Design program at Vermont College of Fine Arts is less concerned with what graphic design should be and instead has embraced the idea of what graphic design could be. The students, faculty and alumni of the program have made a practice of using graphic design processes to produce what, at first glance, may not look like graphic design product.
In this exhibition, graphic design communicates through a visual medium. Graphic designers work on the screen, in print, and multi-dimensionally, with light and sound and intangibles and make incursions into territory traditionally occupied by other arts. The media of the works in this show range from embroidered pillowcases, to video, to painted wooden shapes, to upcycled car parts, to trash. The designers’ intend variously to heal, to challenge, and to create social change as well as to explore traditional design barriers and create communicative form. Two of the designers in the show, Christine Valerio and Rachael Hatley, have received national recognition for their community design projects. Troy Patterson received a Design Ignites Change Awards Program. Others have been exhibited in art shows across the country and written for design publications. The work that VCFA designers do is expanding the reach of design practice.
TaDa! is unique in that these works are not graphic design as fine art, but graphic design as a vehicle of communication. In the tradition of the VCFA educational model, each designer has used vigorous training in design — typography and visual hierarchy and color theory and design history —to “conjoin the visual with language and intention.” (Sondra Graff)
Emily Claire Coats says of her own work, “See This | Not This is a work of graphic design as it incorporates a variety of graphic elements, designed together to elicit participation from others and communicate between them. Because the finished work will reflect a collaborative effort and place a focus on the process of creating the piece, it may fall under the category of conditional design (where the process is the goal). However, the finished piece, including the additions of participants, is designed to create a visual conversation that explores the nuances of revealing oneself to others.” TaDa! recontextualizes preconceived notions of graphic design by shifts in form, content and thinking.
Leslie Tane, VCFA GD 10.2013, is a curator, designer, educator, and writer living in Easthampton, Massachusetts. After more than 20 years of design practice she currently works as a contributing writer for Beautiful/Decay and in the Art Discovery Center of the George Vincent Walker Smith Museum in Springfield, MA. Her design project Curatorial 365 is scheduled to be exhibited at Hosmer Gallery in Northampton, MA in 2015.
I recently participated in the XD24 International Design lecture roundtable and workshop at Hongik University, initiated by faculty member and amazing host Chris Ro.
I did my usual song and dance – this time about socioeconomic foundations and graphic design foundations.
Included were discussions of Fordism and Modernism,
as well as a suggestion as to socioeconomic order in the startup 2.0 age,
and a definition of graphic design in the startup 2.0 age.
The lecture was half-dystopian / half-utopian, as I see how most people see this Post-PostModern age as being. The other speakers were my fellow VCFA faculty Yoon Soo Lee and Ziddi Msangi, as well as Apple type designer Min Bon. The roundtable was moderated by Jiwon Lee, one of my favorite, favorite human beings.
Kwong Nayoung and Kkong Mira (above) provided amazing translation into English AND Japanese. Jungwook Kim provided general assistance.
The lecture was preceded by a workshop about oppositionality as a base methodology for constant engagement (and thus actual creativity and innovation) in graphic design.
Students were asked to create a visual kit-of-parts that was comprised of 25 formal elements (color, pattern, form, image, texture, type, and lettering) based on three speculative potential future vocations unreliant on the laws of physics.
They made weird stuff.
And they made interesting stuff.
But most of all, they made a lot of stuff, and they (including faculty member Chris Ro) stuck around for an extra six hours to ensure that everyone got a full critique. (Bonus: Chris and I bought pizza and beer for everyone.)
And then they mimicked the supernatural beings in Michael Jackson’s Thriller, with Chris being the Gloved One. It was, in short, awesome.