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Awfully Beautiful


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Awfully Beautiful: Graphic Design and the Vernacular

Self-written and designed publication detailing the use of vernacular non-design in professional graphic design.

Published in: Design
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Awfully Beautiful

  1. 1. Aw- fully Beau- tiful
  2. 2. 3 4 to Reading $Some designers just gotta. $Some designers just gotta. Awfully Beautiful Designs
  3. 3. 5 6 Intro Postmodernism The 80’s Romantic Marxism There’s No Art Chantry and Bonehead Design Such Thing to $ 7 - 1049 $ 11 - 1450 $ 19 - 2099 $ 21 - 2675 Michael Bierut knows 1-4 Continental Philosophy, ooh la la Pulp Non-Fiction No one ever says Engelism, do they? The 80’s The 80’s Pro and Con Notes from Ed Fella M&Co (fessions) the Manager $ 15 - 17 75 $$ 12 - 13 18 18 00 99 $ 27 - 28 49 $ 29 - 44 49 Letters on Letters of Other Letters Reaganomics, meet your match Name Your Price Come Back and See Us
  4. 4. 8 INTRO Proper Etiquette What makes something proper and in good taste? Where does professionalism end and naivete begin, and who gets to say? Just as defining art in- furiated as it inspired throughout the core of 20th There’s No Such Thing Century Art history, so too have similarly perplex- ing questions arisen over ‘design’ and ‘undesign’ in today’s history of the field. Some designers have come to wonder- what exactly does Graphic Design have on all the rest? “Who is to say,” asks Design Diety Steven Heller, “that a naively hand-painted sign is less effective than a beautifully executed typeface?”2 While ‘Design’ must surely be defined against its opposite, what this dilemma demands is a look at what’s called the vernacular. ‘Vernacular’ is a multifaceted term requiring a certain clarification. The word is used both a typological classification and a characterization. ‘Vernacular’ language, for instance, means a native language, but also “There’s no such thing represents a separation from something larger. In standing for something nontraditional, it often represents a kind of informal folklore. Defined another way, “generally, the term as an undesigned graphic vernacular is used to refer to the everyday, the quotidian, or the common in contrast to the important, the significant, or the special.”3 Vernacular design, then, runs counter to object anymore, and there what those more sophisticated and in power will allow as formal and appropriate. used to be.” Just as famed Architectural Historian Nikolaus Pevner refered ~ Michael Bierut1 to vernacular architecture as ‘mere buildings,’ and famed Art Historian Arthur Danto to readymades pre- conversion as ‘mere real things,’ vernacular design is ‘mere design’ and simply that.4 It is the endless parade of anonymous work that so endlessly sieges our attention we tune ABOVE it out without the slightest effort. In full, “Design is logically described as Cover of ‘How We Are Hungry’ vernacular when it does not involve by Dave Eggers. self-conscious development, advance study and planning.”5 Eggers’ writing and design is known for its colloquial wit.
  5. 5. 9 10 Common Comforts in Uncommon Times In its twisting of times and perspectives, there’s a great sense of freedom in vernacularist work, irony and irreverence all run amuck. Heller argues that “type is indeed the vernacular of mass communication,” so being able to appreciate typography in all its permutations takes a certain moxie.7 Simply appreciating the everyday is taking a kind of stand on its own, away from sensationalized media portrayals and towards a more holistic search for inspiration and reality. In that “normally vernacular expressions convey Ever the penny pincher, what social reality feels like rather than what it should be like,” there is a particularly Bob Gill puts his coupons genuine sense of truth inside such expressions, however perturbing. 8 Those designers to work for D&AD. intoxicated by the quest for originality can’t help but find appeal in the idea that original Tips for Everyday Living forms can be found anywhere. As such that the vernacular To dig deeper into the constant process of Vernacularism, let’s put it in a historical designs themselves “are often (but by context, and look at the effect of postmodernism on its use. no mean always) surprisingly success- ful both in practical and visual ways,” vernacularism takes for its start an uncommon viewpoint and application of the common.6 It is in this way that vernacularism in professional graphic design is less style or even semi-style, but rather more of an approach. While vernacularism has an experimental bent, it does so in a Indian Ephemera used for the particularly accessible fashion, not an cover of Meera Nair’s ‘Video.’ unapproachable one. Vernacularist design derives from more public, even democratic means, whether they be finessed sign painting or grotesque graffiti, from both scrawls and structure alike.
  6. 6. 12 POST MODERNISM And Sometimes Gray “I prefer ‘both-and’ to ‘either-or,’ black and white, and sometimes gray, to black or white.” ~ Robert Venturi10 Continental Philosophy, The 1972 publication of Robert Venturi, Ooh La La Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour’s Learning from Las Vegas was a watershed event in the development of postmodern architecture, and postmodernism in general. Even despite avoiding the epithet itself, Las Vegas saw “modernist architecture as everywhere trying to create and impose a singular language,” and in that sense very much sparked a postmodern revolution.10 Up until this point, the vernacular was almost exclusively forced out of the professional limelight. Though everpresent, simply hidden, client stances on using “Work with the grid system the vernacular mightily resembled Holiday Inn’s old slogan - “The Best Surprise Is No Surprise.” means submitting to laws of Whereas Modernism suppressed the vernacular, postmodernism unleashed it. universal validity.” The real divide with Modernism ~ Josef Müller-Brockmann 9 was not, as one might think, from disgust, but rather dissapointment; not from ignorance, but rather alienation. In response to preeminent literary critic Harry Levin’s question- was the intent of Modernism “to have created a conscience for a scientific age?,” Venturi would probably smugly sigh and say, well at least “the Modernists almost got it right.” 12 ABOVE Cover of design annual, ‘Swiss Design 2003: Dèsir Design.’ Ambiguous cropping is one feature of postmodernism.
  7. 7. 13 14 Modernism Moves On The Stage Is Set To help us deliberate on Modernism’s decline, Design Historian Jack H. Williamson As vernacular cultures are has charted the three main, positive accomplishments of postmodernism as - “a throwing small-scale cultures within larger off of a severe rationalism which denied more intuitive faculties, an exploration of arrays, the quest of vernacular design symbolic and decorative values, and a recognition and utilization of the past.” 13 It’s becomes speaking in a particular illuminating to look within Graphic Design History for these features. code - that is, to speak only to those spoken to, and to do so well. For one, it’s interesting to discover Katherine McCoy, co-chairperson of Cranbrook’s Baines again, said “We design not The commercialization of design department for a quarter of a decade, once worked for Unimark International. for historians to judge or condemn, student work from Switzerland which There, she too learned to perfect the Swiss International Typographic style. Headed by but for an audience with immediate took place in the States increased Massimo Vignelli, designers at the New York Unimark office were known for wearing lab needs and expectations.” 18 In such a the potential to put the vernacular coats to work. While it’s true she soon moved towards a more differentiated approach, viewpoint, Bauhausian ideals of cross through its own translated commodi- if it was not for her early experiences, McCoy’s breaking point might have been much the board universal communication fication process. And while things are different. One of her initial inspirations, afterall, was Wolfgang Weingart, who, while a were rejected. Afterall, argues lost in such a translation, it also keeps renegade, was no complete rebel from standard Swiss foundations. Weingart understood Lorraine Wild, what we really need is things in motion. In a world whose am- and put into action the maxim- “Rules are meant to be broken only exceptionally.” “design that talks to diverse groups biguity was for too long shoved out, in specifically made visual languages translated ambiguity would work as a Regarding the throwing off of ‘severe rationalism’ that predicated McCoy’s turn, Walker Art Center publications each group will understand.19 kind of perpetual ambiguity. London based designer and educator Phil Baines was one of the earliest to come out share the postmodern interest in fully armed. Lashing out in an early Emigre issue, in a snippet from his thesis, he fumed, the vernacular. An immediate consequence of To summarize, in the post- “The Bauhaus mistook legibility for communication.” 14 This idea was popularized further this rejection was the freedom to use modern stratosphere, “ironic by David Carson in his version, “Never mistake legibility for communication.” 15 It’s easy what was formerly excised. If such employment of vernacular or non- to blame all this aggression on young newbies attacking their elders. But all that stormed freedom was abused, at least it was designed elements, such as hand the legibility gates was not merely hot air, no matter its veracity. Former Icograda in the form of an understandable drawn typography, constituted a president Jorge Frascara put things more sensibly when he chimed in that, “Today, the spite. When April Greiman returned departure from the rationality of rightness of the Bauhaus’s principles has given way to doubt. One must be critical of to America after studying in Basel earlier approaches.”20 Postmodern attitudes that, instead of being truly international, impose foreign concepts on local with Weingart, the stage was set. The ideals had an enormous impact on culture, design education and practice. These artificially injected values interfere with and confluence of new technology and her design ideals. Especially in places like destroy the colloquial and vernacular expressions of an exisiting culture.” 16 It is indeed Swiss professor’s expanding appeal Cranbrook and CalArts, the work of perplexing that even though “Early modernists spoke of the need to design for the egged on Greiman and in-turn, other professors and students in Graduate masses,” once, “bits and pieces of that movement finally trickled down into everyday life, U.S. New-Wavers. Graphic Design programs across it was seldom in a form modernists would endorse.” 17 Now rather Carson was reading up America changed irrevocably, setting on Cultural Imperialism, I’m not so sure. Indeed, he was probably surfing. But the fact into motion a larger effect on the remains- postmodern designers, however surprisingly, managed to predict an increasingly profession on whole. One such effect, conglomerated world. So perhaps they over-reached, and perhaps they were in a bubble out of many, was Vernacularism. (and a dimly lit one at that?). They still managed to foresee certain Globalizing tendencies. Considering today’s politically unstable landscape, they were wise to do so. Chantry’s ads for Urban Outffiters playfully use the past to turn over a new leaf.
  8. 8. 16 THE 80’S Rallying Cry Simply as a descriptor, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that use of ‘vernacular’ took off. Though the term “was used rather imprecisely by graphic Reaganomics, designers,” it nonetheless became a kind of rallying cry, if not the most coherent one. 22 Bold, Meet Your Match somewhat silly, definitely unpretentious, the vernacular became a satirical vehicle, as well as, although less overtly, a political one. Who were the main movers and shakers in this time period? A Jolly Good Fella One of the key figures in this translation was an unlikely one. Commercial artist for 30 years, graduate from the infamous Cranbrook at 48, and “Make more now professor at CalArts, Ed Fella is a true original. Interestingly enough, it is Fella’s non-commercial from less.” projects that have won him the most acclaim, a unique position indeed. ~ Ed Fella21 Partner in Pentagram’s New York office, Michael Bierut places Fella in that rare and esteemed category of graphic author. He says, “These designers have a visual approach that is easily identifiable and this way of working has, in effect, become a business card for them. It is also self- initiated by definition.”23 How Fella begins his works connects directly to the vernacular’s ABOVE appeal, and its spread. A big part of his brainstorming process is travel. An Ed Fella design for AIGA’s 1999 America: Cult & Culture conference.
  9. 9. Letters on America 17 18 On his wide-ranging cross- country roadtrips, Fella documents the vernacular signage of small town Americana through Polaroids. M&Co These unrestrained blips and pieces become fodder for experimental Founded by Tibor Kalman, M&Co was a highly influential firm in the New York illustration work. Many of these Design scene and beyond. Playful and sometimes perplexing, the firm’s work was never photographs can be found filling lacking in wit. M&Co had an “interest in the visual detritus of mass culture,” whereby, up ‘Letters on America,’ a book “historical artifacts both high and low were recast as contemporary design attributes.”27 which made many designers instant Note the use of ‘detritus’ here - its a telling term to use – a bit derogatory yet still an vernacular enthusiasts. Instead of attempt to brim with authenticity. It’s another way of saying - though now dead, these Mies van Der Roe’s “Less is More,” forms once did thrive. Less altruistically, it also speaks of a trash can ripe for the plucking. or Venturi’s chiding “Less is a Bore,” Adds Tibor himself, “we were in pursuit of the ugly, the vernacular, and using it in a new Ed Fella simply states “Make more way.”28 With a hint of hindsight humor former Tibor underling Scott Stowell concurs, from less.”24 He exemplifies this in admitting that “at M&Co we would spend weeks painstakingly perfecting typography so notebook after notebook, attempting that it looked like it had been made by someone who had no idea what s/he was doing.”29 to add a new piece a day. Hrmmm. Professional amateurism? Could that possibly work? What was the point, we might ask? Well, here’s what. Kalman knew his stuff. He loved to use the vernacular to create unexpected reactions in the viewer. He also wanted to prod the profession by making designers more aware of their own tastes, and, subsequently, their elitism. In an era of both Thatcherism in the UK, and Reaganomics in the US, Tibor believed elitism was to blame for all the design world’s unnecessarily decadent work. Living in Manhattan at that time, Kalman might have met one too many Gordon Gekkos for his freeform tastes. In taking this stand, as Steven Heller comments, “The lack of pretense in vernacular styles served to critique the overly polished professionalism that prevailed in the mid-1980s.”30 For Tibor, all this vernacular use boiled down to more indeed than just the crude “I have about 80 sketchbooks with 100 versus the refined. At AIGA’s 1989 “Dangerous Ideas” conference in San Antonio, drawings in each one,” Fella rather shockingly Texas, Kalman took things a step further, prodding Duffy Design’s Joe Duffy into a admits. 25 Instead of client commissions, Fella blithley loud, confrontational debate. In an ad he paid for in The Wall Street Times, Duffy, a tread on, following his own muse, and in his own package design specialist, had promoted graphic design to big businesses as a tool way. He is Graphic Design’s Fine Artist, or Fine Art’s particularly adept at seperating essentially the same packaged goods. In doing so, Graphic Designer. Kalman provocatively suggested Duffy was promoting a kind of ‘indentured servitude.’ However well intentioned, Tibor’s taste for politics was more insatiable than his rhetoric Fella’s works “are scout’s maps, was successful. Afterall, Benetton was once rated the 3rd most recognizable brand in the showing the edge of visual language, world, after only McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. Nonetheless, the debate was a particularly where it builds up and breaks down, public showcase of typically more private concerns and it was even harder from then on where it can go.”26 Sounds liberating, to deny the power of M&Co’s instigations. While its aesthetics could be silly, the firm’s doesn’t it? No wonder designers of influential clout was never in question. the world of practicality might wish for a muse of their own. And if the A utilitarian signboard becomes a vernacular worked for Fella, why not post for humor in this M&Co ad for them? Were there any other takers on New York’s Restaurant Florent. this? Most certainly. M&Co was one of them, and one of the best.
  10. 10. 19 20 Art Chantry “Raw, no-frills, collaged, fractured, distressed and recycled,” the work of Art Chantry incoporates what he called the real American folk art - graphics produced by untrained craftspersons. 31 He espoused the belief that “graphic design is a folk art whose best practitioners are often anonymous and whose best examples may be deceptively rough or naive.”32 Above and beyond his fellow designers, it was Chantry who most 50’s Nostalgia sells successfuly conversed with, converted, and championed the vernacular on his own. 90’s Urban Outfitters. Not working for a firm or huge clients provided Art’s creativity with unprecedented leverage. Known for his temper, perhaps he needs the space anyway. Nonetheless, Chantry was the unpretentious and delicious roadside stand to a design world’s caviar. Pulp Non-Fiction And even while Art Chantry’s belief that “All graphic design is ‘vernacular’,” is hopelessly egalitarian, the very fact his work’s accepted as ‘good design’ is one of the design world’s Chantry gleans much of his most open acts of acceptance. 33 For a designer who doesn’t even use a computer, that in visual inspiration from his collection of itself is a promising thing indeed. vintage Pulp magazines. Sparkling in wit, his prolific work spans everything The most practical and likely conundrum in this kind of professionalized acceptance from clothing catalogs to punk flyers. boils down to that same problem it always is - the one of communication. Is the vernacular more for the designers who use it or its audience? Just take one of Chantry’s business card for example. Collaged from a grocery store meat department advert, does it ad- vertise Chantry’s love of meat? No, silly author! It’s just a gag. Don’t you get it? But the Chantry’s personal business card. irony might be lost on some. And what about the ones who get left out? Is it the fault of the humorless who don’t get the joke or the fault of the comedian for not delivering? Likely a mix of both, it’s an interesting thing to consider when designing work that uses the vernacular.
  11. 11. A Quiet Retrieve 22 ROMANTIC I’d like now to venture a point of politics - that those graphic designers who use the everyday enjoy the vernacular for its how as much as for its what. For professional designers, especially those surrounded by similar ilk (New Yorkers, say), the MARXISM vernacular is seen as a way out. Its small stories inscribe an escape from slavish stylistic devotion, its small towns a quiet retrieve from the piercing perch of the city. and Bonehead Design The Master’s House Outside of the vernacular’s exotic properties, there lies within certain allied designers a shared political interest in new forms of decentralized representation. Now, if the vernacular doesn’t seem inherently political, that’s understandable, but consider this. In Latin, the term ‘verna’ refers to a slave born in the house of his master, and many have argued this is as much the root of ‘vernacular’ as the Latin ‘vernaculus,’ itself meaning ‘indigeneous.’ In that first way, the premise of the local holds but only in a separated “Bad is good.” class delineated and opposed to another, its superior. This association recalls a sense of ~ David Bryne34 what noted literary critic Houston Baker called “romantic Marxism” – an appeal overwhelming in sentimental populism. 35 Graphic designers are an intrinsic part of a wider, cultural production network, one which has been one-sidingly deemed the ‘culture industry’ by elitist neo- Marxist theoretician Theodor Adorno, and even more disparingly the ‘distraction’ or ‘illusion industry’ by neo-Marxist philosopher Wolfgang Fritz Haug. Use of the vernacular ABOVE may stem from a certain designer guilt over differentiating essentially Promotion for French Paper similar products in the glut of the by Charles Spencer Anderson contemporary marketplace.
  12. 12. Here To Stay? 23 24 In viewing all marketing across the board as an encroachment on purer values, it empties style of pleasure, Shades and Shadows and ignores, in its determinist rush, any sense of control from within its As Professor and social critic appreciators. Former editor of the Stuart Ewen recalls, “in a hand-to- Libertarian Reason magazine, Virginia mouth world, material goods were Postrel takes offense to this, writing, scarce; they were simple vernacular “Aesthetic skills are real skills. While products, made from readily available not analytical, they nonetheless help resources, and crafted at home.”36 But us to perceive and understand the Capital grew and the sands shifted. As world.”39 Aesthetic value is here to Haug has even gone so far as to say, stay, Postrel writes, and not only that, today, “with shades and shadows the it enriches the very consumers who illusion industry populates the spaces Alas, the promises of earnest have a say in their enjoyment. On top left empty by capitalism.”37 The power aesthetic expression in unlikely of that, she would argue, such self- elite of Capitalism surely speaks in a places could enlighten otherwise determination is much stronger than proper language, of its own choosing, bleak situations or areas. The fear of what Marxists will allot for. and its dissidents another. Designers cultural imperialism, of a McWorld, has might be seeking to re-evaluate the grown louder in recent yerars. In his commodification and consumption essay, “Nostalgia For The Real – Or, paradigm through approaching the Bad Is Good,” David Byrne mirrors his everyday, analyzing those very spaces former buddy Tibor when he writes they supposedly so populate. Instead “The faster and great the spread of promising happiness onto users, of globalization, neo-liberalism, they look to see what those users are and multinational corporations, the doing themselves, on their own terms. greater the nostalgia for that which they replace.”38 Standardization might be reducing the complexity of the world, washing out what it wishes. But this is Of course, purposing varies, as do results. By all not to say it isn’t benefitting the world means, not all politicize. By most means, many strive in other ways, standards of living not to. More aesthetically speaking, vernacular use and spreading human rights among has much to do with the fact that, as Heller tells it, them. And anyhow, while this Marxist “in a sea of Starbucks, McDonald’s, Walmart, Gap and angle may illuminate former SDS all the other large and small, international corporate member Mr. Tibor, its not terribly all brands, anything that looks the least bit human-made encompassing for graphic designers stands above the fray.”40 on whole, nor hard to attack. While And for other designers, the we’re surely spoiled, does a hand- vernacular simply involves a great to-mouth world really sound like deal of play – much more than could Dockers incorporate a military something worth idealizing? The be expected given this interpretative vernacular aesthetic into their viewpoint puts a stranglehold subtext of oppression and revolt. clothing tags. on aesthetics by condemning it Afterall, for goodness sake, Charles as bourgeois manipulation, and Spencer Anderson jokingly calls his Many critics are wary of manipulation alone. creative process “Bonehead Design.”41 such commodification.
  13. 13. 25 26 Think Global, Design Local I Still Want To Believe Nonetheless, taking the vernacular politically makes good sense. The Post-9/11 Now that I’ve charted out curtailment of dissent is worrying and re-asserting the rule of free speech in democracy some potential problems, let’s look is always a good one. Focusing on the local is a positive manifestation of that well onto some positive examples. The known slogan - Think Global. Buy Local. Let’s be prudent though. We mustn’t forget conversion of draftsmen created the dependence of perspective on definition. Modernist architecture Philip Johnson and hand-painted and typography also quested for what he called ‘pure’ images of design. The vernacularist search for into digitized forms is the most community is, in its own way, a search for the universality of brotherhood not so different judicious example of Vernacularist from that vision spouted, however dogmatically, by Vignelli and the like. While they both conversion. While maybe connected Most recently, Frere-Jones rely on a broad attempt to unite, in comparison to modernism, vernacularism includes most prominently to eccentricity, released his Gotham design, the through meaning, instead of excluding through form. vernacularist design doesn’t always cream of the crop. Just as modernist have to be so flamboyant. Take, for skyscrapers became a kind of bread What other concerns might we take notice of here? Unfortunately, the testy beast instance, some of Hoefler & Frere- and butter of the metropolis, so too of Appropriation rears its ugly head once more. Gunnar Swanson rightfully wonders- Jones’ typefaces. With an interest in is Gotham now part of the corporate why is it that, “when designers appropriate forms from non-designers/non-artists, it is what goes unseen, Frere-Jones first vernacular, prominently and widely called “recognition of the vernacular””?42 Isn’t there some co-option involved, perhaps utilized the vernacular in his Garage used throughout the Manhattan of even in a snobbish fashion? How about, as Swanson answers himself, it is because since Gothic font, one based on the ultimate its namesake and creation. Originally “graphic designers do not know the authors we pretend they do not exist.”43 Almost in banality- utilitarian parking garage designed for GQ magazine, and always anoymous, vernacular authors are by their very nature required to be reticent. If tickets. He followed that with his based on New York’s urban signage, the work’s ‘bad’ afterall, why would one want to take credit? But that anonymity is also Interstate designs, based on American Gotham speaks to how the vernacular an ability to ignorantly delineate from higher standards. Keeping these standards is of Highway signs. can define a place. The face is mere utmost importance. Acknowledging difference is as well. This doesn’t mean vernacularist lettering from mere buildings, but also appropriation should be as unfettered as vernacular works themselves. While some so much more. vernacular authors probably want to keep their way of speaking to themselves, probably all are inaccessible for interviews or requests. And so, since tracking down is an In a similar vein, another impossible task, designers just need to be careful of what they take and how. Questions of vernacular font of interest is Christian authorship notwithstanding, in the wrong hands, applying a historical surface treatment Schwartz’s’s Los Feliz, built around in lieu of historical context could be mightily detrimental. Robin Kinross even worries that signage from within the greater Los “the fad for vernacular bad taste may be an attempt by designers to survive by blending Angeles are. Fonts are not concepts into the landscape, chameleon-like.”44 The opposite extreme is that designers will want a in and of themselves, but just as Los renaissance in anonymous forms only as long as they are signed, sealed and delivered on Feliz feels LA, Gotham feels NY. And their own terms, and, of couse, they still get famous for it. Fortunately for more than the without their vernacular origins, could both of us, neither Kinross’ extremity nor my own is highly likely, not in any acceptable such roots be inscribed? sense at least. Applied to everyday landscape, Based on New York signage, local design can bring global issues Gotham is inscribed with the place. towards a broader dialogue.
  14. 14. 28 PRO & CON (FESSIONS) Putting Some Con back into the Profession Letting the Sunshine In Architectural Historian James D. Kornwolf has argued that “vernacular architecture is generally “Vernacular architecture is a contradiction, an oxymoron.”45 Thought of this way, can vernacularism really ever hope to be generally a contradiction, professionalized within the disciplines of design? Perhaps it can’t, but that may be for the best. an oxymoron.” As soon as the local becomes ~ James D. Kornwolf 45 universalized, it becomes the next status quo, one exodus of status after another. But just as naive typography isn’t fine, and a cloudbust isn’t art, that doesn’t restrict our capacity to enjoy either one of them aesthetically. On a limited scale, in limited ways, representation can put the everyday ABOVE into a new perspective. Let’s let it. Promotion for Spur Design
  15. 15. 30 NOTES Glossary Bonehead Design FROM Charles Spencer Anderson’s tongue-in-cheek term for his design process. Bourgeois “By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social THE production and the employers of wage labor.” (source: The Communist Manifesto) Colloquial an informal expression, one not used in formal speech or writing. MANAGER Commodification the transformation of relationships, formerly untainted by commerce, into commercial relationships, relationships of buying and selling. Continental Philosophy Continental philosophy is a general term for several related philosophical traditions that Quality Assurred originated in continental Europe from the nineteenth century onward, in contrast with Anglo-American analytic philosophy. Decentralized withdrawn from a center or place of concentration; especially having power or function “Come Back and See Us.” dispersed from a central to local authorities. Determinism the philosophical conception which claims that every physical event, including human cognition and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. No mysterious miracles or totally random events occur. Detritus dead or decaying organic matter. Dissident a person who actively opposes an established opinion, policy, or structure. Elitism ABOVE the attitude that society should be governed by an elite group of individuals. Cover for the Nation by Globalization Scott Stowell’s Open studio a set of processes leading to the integration of economic, cultural, political, and social systems across geographical boundaries.
  16. 16. 31 32 Glossary Notes 1 Virginia Postrel, The Substance of Style: how the rise of aesthetic value is remaking Indentured Servitude commerce, culture, and consciousness (New York: Pantheon, 2003), p. 17. an unfree labourer under contract to work for another person, often without any pay, but in exchange for other essentials. 2 Juan Carlos Mena and Oscar Reyes, Sensacional! Mexican Street Graphics (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002), p. 22. Legibility the ease with which type characters can be read. 3 James Jasinski, Sourcebook on Rhetoric (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2001), p. 599. Moxie fortitude and determination. 4 “Indeed, these readymades, as he termed them, had been mere real things before they became works of art by Duchamp, who after all did not make the combs or Neo-liberalism snow shovels- what would be the point of that?- though he made the works of art.” refers to a political-economic philosophy that de-emphasizes or rejects government intervention in the domestic economy. Arthur Coleman Danto, Connections to the World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), p. 8. Pretense pretending with intention to deceive. “What distinguishes works of architecture from mere buildings is that they are designed with a view to aesthetic appeal.” Pulp inexpensive fiction magazines widely published from the 1920s through the 1950s. Nikolaus Pevsner, An Outline of European Architecture (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1958), p. 23. Utilitarian having a useful function. 5 John F. Pile, Design: Purpose, Form, and Meaning (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1979), p. 40. 6 Ibid., p. 40. 7 Steven Heller and Philip B. Meggs, editors, Texts on Type: Critical Writings on Typography (New York: Allworth Press, 2001), p. vi. 8 John Bodnar, Remaking America: Public Memory, Commemoration, and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), p. 14. 9 Josef Müller-Brockmann, “Grid and Design Philosophy,” Texts on Type: Critical Writings on Typography (New York: Allworth Press, 2001), p. 198. 10 Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1966), p. 16. 11 John Docker, Postmodernism and Popular Culture: A Cultural History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 83.
  17. 17. 33 34 Notes Notes 12 Harry Levin quote: 24 Sean Adams and Noreen Morioka, Logo Design Workbook: A Hands-On Guide Frank C. Lu, Modernism: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies to Creating Logos (Gloucester, Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers, 2004), p. 28. (London: Routledge, 2002), p. 303. 25 Sarah Dougher and Plazm Media, 100 Habits of Successful Graphic Designers: Robert Venturi quote: Insider Secrets from Top Designers on Working Smart and Staying Creative Jon Lang, Urban Design: The American Experience (Gloucester, Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers, 2003), p. 98. (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1994), p. xi. 26 Lewis Blackwell, “Character Witness,” Creative Review 20.8 (February 2005), p. 56. 13 Jack H Williamson, “The Grid: History, Use, and Meaning,” in Design Discourse: History, Theory, Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), p. 186. 27 Steven Heller and Louise Fili. Typology: Type Design from the Victorian Era to the Digital Age (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999), p. 174. 14 Gerard Unger, “Legible?,” Emigre 65 (2003), p. 100. 28 Michael Bierut and Peter Hall, eds, Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist, 15 Elizabeth Dye, “Will Graphic Design Save Fashion?...(Or Kill It?),” (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998), p. 34. Williamette Week (Williamette Week Online: 29 May 2002), <>. 29 Michael Bierut, “Authenticity: A User’s Guide,” Design Observer: writings about design & culture (Design Observer: 8 February 2005), 16 Jorge Frascara, User-Centered Graphic Design <>. (London: Taylor & Francis, 1997), p. 130. 30 Steven Heller and Christine Thompson, Letterforms: The Evolution of Hand-Drawn, 17 Brent C. Brolin, Architectural Ornament: Banishment and Return Humorous, Vernacular, and Experimental Type (New York: Watson-Guptill, 2000), p. 30. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000), p. 263. 31 AIGA Orlando, “Art Chantry,” AIGA Orlando (AIGA Orlando: 20 October 2004), 18 Laurel Harper, Radical Graphics/Graphic Radicals <>. (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999), p. 14. 32 Julie Lasky, “The Cult of Subcultures,” AIGA New York (AIGA New York: 2002), 19 Rick Poynor, “Building Bridges Between Theory and Practice,” in Looking Closer 2: <>. Critical Writings on Graphic Design (New York: Allworth Press, 1997), p. 67. 33 Jessica Helfand, “Our Bodies, Our Fonts,” Design Observer: 20 Russell Bestley and Ian Noble, Visual Research: An Introduction to Research writings about design & culture (Design Observer: 15 January 2006), Methodologies in Graphic Design (London: AVA Books, 2005), p. 188. <>. 21 Sean Adams and Noreen Morioka, Logo Design Workbook: A Hands-On Guide 34 Juan Carlos Mena and Oscar Reyes, Sensacional! Mexican Street Graphics to Creating Logos (Gloucester, Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers, 2004), p. 28. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002), p. 12. 22 Steven Heller, Design Humor: The Art of Graphic Wit 35 Houston A. Baker, Blues, Ideology and Afro-American Literature: A Vernacular Theory (New York: Watson-Guptill, 2002), p. 78. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), p. 67. 23 Jane Austin, Graphic Originals: Designers Who Work Beyond the Brief 36 Stuart Ewen, All Consuming Images: The Politics of Style in Contemporary Culture (East Sussex: RotoVision, 2003), p. 141. (New York: Basic Books, 1988), p. 30.
  18. 18. 35 36 Notes 1 Image Notes 37 Wolfgang Fritz Haug, A Critique of Commodity Aesthetics: Appearance, Sexuality and 1-2 Promotionals for Fervor Creative Advertising in Capitalist Society (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), ( p. 121. 3 Non-Format’s book cover for 38 Juan Carlos Mena and Oscar Reyes, Sensacional! Mexican Street Graphics Sean Wilsey’s “Oh the Glory of It All” (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002), p. 12. ( 39 Virginia Postrel, The Substance of Style: how the rise of aesthetic value is remaking 4 Poster by Ed Fella commerce, culture, and consciousness (New York: Pantheon, 2003), p. 170. 2 5-6 Handwritten Flowers by 40 Juan Carlos Mena and Oscar Reyes, Sensacional! Mexican Street Graphics Stefan Sagmeister (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002), p. 22. 7 Poster by Paula Scher 41 Steven Heller, “Through the Past Knowingly?,” AIGA (AIGA: 10 May 2005), <>. 42 Gunnar Swanson, “What’s Wrong with Plagiarism?,” in Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Design Responsibility (New York: Allworth Press, 2003), p. 150. 3 4 43 Ibid., p. 150. 44 Kenneth Fitzgerald, “I Come To Bury Graphic Design, Not To Praise It,” Emigre 66 (2003), p. 35. 45 James D. Kornwolf, Architecture and Town Planning in Colonial North America Volume 1 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), p. 10. 5 6 7
  19. 19. 37 38 Works Cited Works Cited Adams, Sean and Noreen Morioka. Logo Design Workbook: A Hands-On Guide to Dye, Elizabeth. “Will Graphic Design Save Fashion?...(Or Kill It?).” Creating Logos. Gloucester, Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers, 2004. Williamette Week Online. 29 May 2002. Williamette Week. 20 January 2006. <>. AIGA Orlando. “Art Chantry.” AIGA Orlando. 20 October 2004. AIGA Orlando. 17 January 2006. <>. Ewen, Stuart. All Consuming Images: The Politics of Style in Contemporary Culture. New York: Basic Books, 1988. Austin, Jane. Graphic Originals: Designers Who Work Beyond the Brief. East Sussex: RotoVision, 2003. Fitzgerald, Kenneth. “I Come To Bury Graphic Design, Not To Praise It.” Emigre 66 (2003): 29 - 42. Baker, Houston A. Blues, Ideology and Afro-American Literature: A Vernacular Theory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. Frascara, Jorge. User-Centered Graphic Design. London: Taylor & Francis, 1997. Bestley, Russell and Ian Noble. Visual Research: An Introduction to Research Methodologies in Graphic Design. London: AVA Books, 2005. Harper, Laurel. Radical Graphics/Graphic Radicals. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999. Bierut, Michael. “Authenticity: A User’s Guide.” Design Observer: writings about design & culture. 8 February 2005. Design Observer. 20 January 2006. Haug, Wolfgang Fritz. A Critique of Commodity Aesthetics: Appearance, Sexuality <>. and Advertising in Capitalist Society. Trans. R. Bock. Minneapolis, MN: University of Bierut, Michael and Peter Hall, eds. Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist. Minnesota Press, 1986. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998. Helfand, Jessica. “Our Bodies, Our Fonts.” Design Observer: writings about design Blackwell, Lewis. “Character Witness.” Creative Review 20.8 (February 2005): 53-56. & culture. 21 February 2005. Design Observer. 15 January 2006. <http://www.>. Bodnar, John. Remaking America: Public Memory, Commemoration, and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993. Heller, Steven. Design Humor: The Art of Graphic Wit. New York: Watson-Guptill, 2002. Brolin, Brent C. Architectural Ornament: Banishment and Return. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000. ---. “Through the Past Knowingly?” AIGA - Through the Past Knowingly? 10 May 2005. AIGA. 19 January 2006. < ContentAlias=_getfullarticle&aid=1100943> Docker, John. Postmodernism and Popular Culture: A Cultural History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Heller, Steven and Louise Fili. Typology: Type Design from the Victorian Era to the Digital Age. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999. Dougher, Sarah and Plazm Media. 100 Habits of Successful Graphic Designers: Insider Secrets from Top Designers on Working Smart and Staying Creative. Heller, Steven and Philip B. Meggs, editors. Texts on Type: Gloucester, Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers, 2003. Critical Writings on Typography. New York: Allworth Press, 2001.
  20. 20. 39 40 Works Cited Works Cited Heller, Steven and Christine Thompson. Letterforms: The Evolution of Hand-Drawn, Swanson, Gunnar. “What’s Wrong with Plagiarism?” Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Humorous, Vernacular, and Experimental Type. New York: Watson-Guptill, 2000. Design Responsibility. Heller, Steven and Veronique Vienne, eds. New York: Allworth Press, 2003. 147 - 158. Jasinski, James. Sourcebook on Rhetoric. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2001. Unger, Gerard. “Legible?” Emigre 65 (2003): 100 - 111. Kornwolf, James D. Architecture and Town Planning in Colonial North America. Volume 1. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. Venturi, Robert. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1966. Lang, Jon. Urban Design: The American Experience. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1994. Williamson, Jack H. “The Grid: History, Use, and Meaning.” Design Discourse: History, Theory, Criticism. Margolin, Victor, ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989. Lasky, Julie. “The Cult of Subcultures.” AIGA Online. 2002. AIGA New York. 171 - 186. 20 January 2006. <>. Lu, Frank C. Modernism: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies. London: Routledge, 2002. Mena, Juan Carlos and Oscar Reyes. Sensacional! Mexican Street Graphics. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002. Müller-Brockmann, Josef. “Grid and Design Philosophy.” Texts on Type: Critical Writings on Typography. Heller, Steven and Philip B. Meggs, eds. New York: Allworth Press, 2001. 198-200. Pile, John F. Design: Purpose, Form, and Meaning. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1979. Poynor, Rick. “Building Bridges Between Theory and Practice.” Bierut, Michael, William Drenttel, Steven Heller, and D.K. Holland, editors. Looking Closer 2: Critical Writings on Graphic Design. New York: Allworth Press, 1997. 65-67. Postrel, Virginia. The Substance of Style: how the rise of aesthetic value is remaking commerce, culture, and consciousness. New York: Pantheon, 2003.
  21. 21. 41 42 TIME LI N E WORLD HISTORY Ronald Reagan Iran frees 52 American Princess Grace Kelly Marines HQ in Beirut Reagan re-elected Gorbachev becomes Space Shuttle Black Monday George Bush elected Uprising in easily elected hostages after 444 days is killed struck in bombing over Mondale Soviet leader Challenger explodes stock market crash President over Dukakis Tiananmen Square 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 GRAPHIC DESIGN Micro processor New Wave continues Emigré founded Meggs’ A History of Brody experiments in Dumbar Zuzana Licko designs Ed Fella graduates MoMa’s Deconstructivist Mildred Friedman development rising (Greiman, Hiebert, Scher) Graphic Design debuts The Face visits Cranbrook the Matrix Typeface Cranbrook at 48 Architecture exhibition retires at Walker 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989