$Some designers just gotta. $Some designers just gotta.
Awfully Beautiful Designs
Intro Postmodernism The 80’s Romantic Marxism
There’s No Art Chantry and Bonehead Design
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
27 - 28 49 $
29 - 44 49
Letters on Letters of Other Letters Reaganomics, meet your match Name Your Price Come Back and See Us
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
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.
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
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.
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
Cover of design annual,
‘Swiss Design 2003: Dèsir Design.’
Ambiguous cropping is one
feature of postmodernism.
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.
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.
Letters on America
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
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.
“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
A Quiet Retrieve 22
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
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
Here To Stay?
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
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
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.
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.
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
Charles Spencer Anderson’s tongue-in-cheek term for his design process.
“By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social
production and the employers of wage labor.”
(source: The Communist Manifesto)
an informal expression, one not used in formal speech or writing.
the transformation of relationships, formerly untainted by commerce,
into commercial relationships, relationships of buying and selling.
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.
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.
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.
dead or decaying organic matter.
a person who actively opposes an established opinion, policy, or structure.
ABOVE the attitude that society should be governed by an elite group of individuals.
Cover for the Nation by
Scott Stowell’s Open studio
a set of processes leading to the integration of economic, cultural, political, and social
systems across geographical boundaries.
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.
the ease with which type characters can be read. 3 James Jasinski, Sourcebook on Rhetoric
(Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2001), p. 599.
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.
pretending with intention to deceive. “What distinguishes works of architecture from mere buildings is that they are designed
with a view to aesthetic appeal.”
inexpensive fiction magazines widely published from the 1920s through the 1950s. Nikolaus Pevsner, An Outline of European Architecture
(Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1958), p. 23.
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.
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),
<http://220.127.116.11/story.php?story=2803>. 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 <http://www.designobserver.com/archives/000281.html>.
(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 <http://orlando.aiga.org/events/oct20-2004.htm>.
(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: <http://aigany.org/ideas/features/chantry.html>.
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. <http://www.designobserver.com/archives/000281.html>.
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.
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), (www.fervorcreative.com)
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. (www.non-format.com)
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.
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.
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.
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Baker, Houston A. Blues, Ideology and Afro-American Literature: A Vernacular Theory.
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Methodologies in Graphic Design. London: AVA Books, 2005.
Harper, Laurel. Radical Graphics/Graphic Radicals.
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Bierut, Michael. “Authenticity: A User’s Guide.” Design Observer: writings about
design & culture. 8 February 2005. Design Observer. 20 January 2006.
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and Advertising in Capitalist Society. Trans. R. Bock. Minneapolis, MN: University of
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Bodnar, John. Remaking America: Public Memory, Commemoration, and Patriotism
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Brolin, Brent C. Architectural Ornament: Banishment and Return.
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Gloucester, Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers, 2003.
Critical Writings on Typography. New York: Allworth Press, 2001.
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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.
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Lu, Frank C. Modernism: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies.
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Mena, Juan Carlos and Oscar Reyes. Sensacional! Mexican Street Graphics.
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Poynor, Rick. “Building Bridges Between Theory and Practice.” Bierut, Michael, William
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commerce, culture, and consciousness. New York: Pantheon, 2003.
LI N E
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
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