I’m going to be giving a presentation about typography and type design tools called “Talking Type” at UXTalk in Tokyo on June 25th at 7pm at the Gengo offices. Details should be announced here shortly.
We just picked up an amazing book that we are carrying over at Wordshape—the very best book on the work of Jan Tschichold to date!
The most comprehensive showing to date of the work of typography master Jan Tschichold—the father of New Typography. Published on the occasion of the retrospective exhibition of Tschichold’s work at Ginza Graphic Gallery in 2013, this beautifully designed and printed book covers an immense amount of his output. Included are type designs, book covers from all stages of his career, poster designs, interior typographic layouts, and hundreds of rare Tschichold works—all photographed beautifully.
The book also contains a new essay on the work of Tschichold by his biographer Christopher Burke, as well as an excellent essay on Tschichold’s interest and focus on Japan and Japanese aesthetics by Taro Yamamoto.
This title is highly recommended and is one of the most beautiful books we have ever carried, both in terms of content and design. 148 pages, beautifully written, photographed, designed and printed. You can, and you should, pick it up here.
I’m going to be doing a set of lectures and workshops in Seoul at Hongik University alongside my VCFA compadres Ziddi Msangi and Yoon Soo Lee, as well as with Apple designer Min Bon and Hongik faculty Chris Ro next month. Some amazing posters for the event: this one by Chae Jeongun.
This one by Seungtae Kim.
This poster by Daekeon Kim.
This one by Hong Aerin.
…and finally this one by Jaekook Han. Really awesome set of posters!
While in Korea recently, I was asked who my favorite comic artist was after explaining to a bunch of grad students why they should really read Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, even after it was assigned to them and they still hadn’t read it.
My answer: Jonathan Chandler.
Just returned to Tokyo, having finished up a week-long slice of the two-week CalArts X Kookmin University Graphic Design workshop.
The workshop had MFA and BFA students of CalArts and Kookmin conduct joint research on Seoul as a focus via a series of cultural studies. The main area of inquiry was the crucial role of one’s cultural background for understanding/expressing verbal and visual languages.
Other aspects of the workshop schedule included lectures by me and CalArts faculty Michael Worthington, a film screening by CalArts alumnus and Kookmin faculty Kelvin Park, and a hybrid exhibition/pop-up studio by the CalArts students at Common Center called We Love to Design in the Sun.
I gave a lecture entitled The Graphic Designers/Type Designers/Design Teachers That Graphic Design History Forgot about the work of Bavarian designers Eugen Nerdinger and Lisa Beck.
Giant thanks to Jiwon Lee, Jae Hyouk-Sung and Michael Worthington for inviting me to participate.
I have a new essay published in the book Creators’ Bookmarks 2 published by G Colon in Korea.
The essay is about desks, most notably the desks where I work.
“I used to hack out ‘zines from a desk under my loft bed in Oakland, California. I had a really nice, expansive work area in an apartment in Portland, Oregon the first time I lived alone. I had another one in Shibuya a few years ago. I’ve had a lot of shitty desks between the two—dank ones in Los Angeles and Portland; cold, unfeeling ones in New York; bright and airy desks in Berkeley and Los Angeles. It’s a never-ending parade of places where I’ve worked.
But the ones where I’ve done my best work are the ones that were not desks at all—a lawn chair on a veranda and a family restaurant table, both in Tokyo, accompanied by sunshine and by really bad pizza (and never-ending refills). To fetishize the physical environs of the graphic design studio is to do it a disservice—most designers I know do not own their own homes. Their work areas are temporary—either at employers’ offices or in rented or leased properties. These are not the liminal spaces of dreams—they are the raw concrete of limited means.
It’s an affront when we see the neat and tidy white-painted concrete box offices that are flouted in Graphic Design documentaries like Helvetica and in books like Unit Editions’ Studio Culture. The lone office semi-worth working in that I have spied via widely-disseminated media to date is Geoff McFetridge’s studio in the film Beautiful Losers. Why? Because it was a mess. It speaks of the nature of humanity and not trying to fit into the mold of wannabe-architects’ tidy Modulor boxes. That’s where I live and where I want to live.”
I spent the day in Los Angeles on May 16 at a study day at LACMA weighing in on how the museum might approach curating a collection of graphic design alongside graphic design luminaries Lorraine Wild (LACMA), Victor Margolin (University of Illinois / Design Issues), Andrew Blauvelt (Walker Art Center), Paola Antonelli (New York MoMA), Benjamin Weiss (Boston Museum of Fine Art), Marina Garone Gravier (National Hemerotec of Mexico), and many of the best design curators, critics, and historians working today.
I presented this timeline of Japanese Graphic Design History in my efforts to show how a Japanese Graphic Design collection might be given form through both the inclusion of Japanese graphic design periodicals, as well as providing touchstones for being comprehensive in assessing the canon of Japanese Graphic Design.
The timeline is very much a work-in-progress, but it’s helpful in helping to provide a rudimentary narrative of the history of Graphic Design in Japan.
Many thanks to Wendy Kaplan, Staci Steinberger, Britt Salvesen, Claudine Dixon, Minyoung Park, Lorraine Wild, and everyone at LACMA, as well as Anne Coco at the Margaret Herrick Library for organizing such a terrific event!
Photo by Victor Margolin
I have an essay called “The Empire of Grey” in issue #23 of Slanted. This issue is all about Swiss typography. An excerpt:
In the introduction to the classic book Empire of Signs by Roland Barthes, the author summons forth a fictive landscape of signs and symbols without tangible connection to meaning within. It is a country where sign and meaning are divorced. A place whose language consists of intimation and suggestion, but never direct articulation—it is layers of overlaid shifting gauze of semiotic mystery and displacement in the stead of the absolute. He then goes on to name the place “Japan”. Within the book, he is both talking about the nation state of Japan and about the “Japan” that exists in his mind (as well as, in particular in the introduction to the book, an imagined, fictive other place which just happens to be saddled with the moniker “Japan”).
It’s both the second and third versions of “Japan” in this book that interest me, especially in the context of this essay—a place that as a global community, we retain a series of impressions of, stereotypes toward, and collective ideas about, even if we have never visited that place.While Japan may be exceedingly important to people studying semiotics and young people across a strata of interests across the world seeking their “otaku moment”, there is another simultaneously fictional and very, very real place that is firmly rooted in the minds of graphic designers… I name this place “Switzerland”.