November 28, 2014

Work by Chyrum Lambert

Some amazing work by Chyrum Lambert. All Chyrum's work is hand-painted, with inks, arcylics, oils, wax, etc. He then cuts the shapes and assembles them onto paper.

They feel tactile, carved, almost. Looking at the jpegs, its difficult to imagine how they were made, a quality that I really love. The use of grids, borders, and large geometric shapes is familiar to me as a graphic designer, but then a lot of that structure gets erased and cut away to reveal other more organic shapes and lines. h/t to Able Parris for the link.

October 12, 2013

WPA Posters

See America Welcome To Montana

Milk - for Warmth Energy Food

Result: Three killed by speeding car

Must we always have this? Why not housing?

Live here at low rent

Keep your fire escapes clear

Indian Art of the United States

Up where winter calls to play

These striking silkscreen, lithograph, and woodcut Work Projects Administration (WPA) posters were designed to publicize health and safety programs; cultural programs including art exhibitions, theatrical, and musical performances; travel and tourism; educational programs; and community activities in seventeen states and the District of Columbia. The posters were made possible by one of the first U.S. Government programs to support the arts and were added to the Library's holdings in the 1940s.

February 25, 2012

The Value of Paper for Digital Art Directors

On February 15th, the Art Directors Club held a panel discussion with members of the ADC 91st Annual Awards Design Jury. Hosted at the Art Institute, it featured Bonnie Siegler, Sam Baron, Leo Jung, and Nicole Jacek. Much of the discussion centered around how design awards were perceived in Europe versus the US, and what the role of a designer was. To hear Nicole Jacek describe the rock-star reception she got as a designer in Europe was inspiring, to say the least.

As they talked, the conversation focused overwhelmingly on the relationship between the designer and paper. I proceed here very gently. As much as anyone, I learned to draw on paper, and I keep sketchbooks filled with doodles. The act of scribbling is cathartic. But then I thought of my actual work life, the one where I am constantly writing code and interacting directly with a computer. Is there a place in design thinking today for direct human computer interaction, or is the act of art direction limited to the analog?

I got the opportunity to ask the panel how they saw the act of writing code, and how that fit with their emphasis on paper and pencil. One panelist commented that perhaps those who wrote code saw what was technically possible, but not why, whereas the visual creator’s job was to define why, without always understanding how. Another comment in particular illustrated the analog/digital disconnect. A panelist commented that after their drawings and so on were made, the paper was passed to someone else to finish up or code up. But was that really all there was? Doesn’t the act of coding warrant more than a pass-off to someone else?

I have internalized the reasons for using paper and pencil. There are no boundaries, other than the pencil and the texture of the paper. We shouldn’t assume that computers will always remain clunky and mouse based, though. We are already seeing tablets and mobiles overtake desktops as the computers of choice. I think we need to look further than just paper, especially when it comes to designing interfaces and handling data. The role of the computer has been just a tool, and a mildly hated one at that, but things change. What method of idea generation do we offer a young designer who has grown up directly manipulating information on their tablet or computer? Do we insist on paper, even when it doesn’t lend itself to certain forms of creativity like code generation or direct HCI?

I don’t have a perfect answer, but I’m sure in the next few years others will find one. Paper will never disappear, but neither will more intuitive and complex digital interfaces. Perhaps the two can complement each other.

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