Tuesday, March 24, 2009

KCAI Graphic Design group visits Minneapolis

Over spring break, I joined a group of KCAI graphic design and AIGA enthusiasts; we visited the chilly and lovely city of Minneapolis. Everyone piled into four cars at the violent hour of 5:45am on a Monday.

On the first day, just a few hours after our arrival, we visited Larsen. I especially enjoyed the moment when a woman and a friendly cocker-spaniel walked in the door. We have an open dog policy, our guide, Heather Olson, let us know. Apart from the fur, the atmosphere was professional. People were quietly working in cubicles. Larsen specializes in print, web-based media and some industrial design; among their clients are, Buffalo Wild Wings, Wausau Paper and Best Buy.
Day two: A cold walk to the Minneapolis School of Art and Design (MCAD).
At MCAD the studios for all fine art disciplines were contained within one building. We walked in the door to experience a multi-disciplinary exhibit.
Occasionally, I enjoy photographing myself, reacting to art. Deer in the headlights is my specialty. (above)
We brought work to show and experienced a critique with a Junior level Typography class.
Above, is the paper airplane graveyard, located on the ceiling of the design studio space. The dust collection was not unlike our occasionally neglected filters in the spray booth.
Robb dressed in neutral colors that day in order to coordinate with this environment and assure my success when the above moment arose.

(Day 2 ended with a glorious trip to the Walker Art Center. I was sans camera and felt naked. Members of the in-house design staff gave us an informal presentation on some of their projects. A tiny design team of five is responsible for all printed materials for the Museum, including exhibition catalogues and promotional campaigns. They do not sleep. Severely competitive one-year internships are offered for recent graduates.)

Day 3: After eating blueberry pancakes (two days in a row) at a local diner where everyone on staff is required to have tattoo sleeves, we regroup.
We began the day with a walk to Guthrie Theater. Although the sky was clear, the hallway-like environment of surrounding buildings prevented the sun from softening the chill.
An enamoring view of the Mississippi river can be experienced on the balcony of the Guthrie.
Our next journey occurred a few blocks away at the design firm, Duffy & Partners. Suspense was intensified during an awkward and silent elevator ride to the sixth floor. (above)
Duffy's atmosphere included a spacious, modern interior with tall ceilings, exposed stone, and giant windows overlooking the Mississippi. Soothing, yet energizing music played over the speakers. Also, everyone was good-looking.
Duffy specializes in developing identities; we also viewed some industrial design pieces. Among their clients are Fresca, American Eagle, Aveda Men and Thymes.
The lecturer at Duffy talked about the evolution of a brand. According to their process, identities are inspired by the initial research contained by mood boards. The colors, style, connotations of mood board images should all represent the potential identity in some manner. During this presentation we all glanced at Jamie and wondered about a possible conspiracy. (Following the lecture, some of us ate at a superb Thai restaurant in the city. The spice was fierce and people were sniffling. On the way out, I grabbed a fortune cookie, such suspense contained in a tiny treat, you will met someone special at a social event.)

And now for a visit to the coolest place in the nation: (objectivity is not necessary in an editorial) Aesthetic Apparatus. These guys are on my list of the most talented and clever people on earth. The atmosphere was so comfortable and unpretentious; this is the type of environment where you could walk in with bed head and no one would like you any less.

The mantra of Aesthetic Apparatus creators Dan Ibarra and Michael Byzewski, is simple: Do what you love. Don't do it for the money. Part of their marketing scheme is to stay up late, listening to music and drinking beer, while printing limited-addition screen prints for bands. This company of three has such a high national and international following, the posters usually sell. A moose costume is memorialized in the printing room. At a print convention, one of their friend's danced infront of the Aesthetic Apparatus booth while wearing this costume.

Our last adventure occurred at the letterpress shop, Studio on Fire.
Founder, Ben Levitz demonstrated the original process with hand set type (above), as well as the slightly more recent process of creating plates from exposing film separations (below).
Levitz also talked about the tactile quality that embodies letterpress design and how quality should be a consideration when chosing a printer, rather than cost alone.
I happened upon this label taped to one of the presses. (Cookie fortunes are always powerful indicators of success.)

nature and the road

Blue has returned to my palette. After Jamie suggested alternating a highlight color within the icons, blue was my favorite option.

The subdued hues of my color palette connote a quiet, meditative outdoor theme. The nomad in my story is not afraid of getting dirty. She is refreshed by nature, but regularly returns to the road out of necessity. I chose to add handwriting to the design in order to refer to the raw element of the theme; handwriting could also connote travel writing. The fancy font, Garamond, contrasts the ruggedness of the subject matter.
During the class critique, I appreciated the comment about connotations of my three color yellow and blue highlights. Kate and Abby mentioned blue was placed on seemingly cleaner icons and yellow on dirtier ones. Although, clean and dirty were not in my rational, I chose the place the colors on areas that I thought made sense; blue could reference a shiny windshield, a slick, vinyl sleeping bag and a cold metal knife. Blue, however did not make sense to me in the hand, jacket or on the dog; I experienced a nausea by the blue hand and faces:
While I'm on the subject of what did not work, a light orange-red within the highlight also looked strange: When any combination of red and orange are lightened, pink or peachy is the result. Only a magician, like Abby, can make such a difficult color work.
The final one, two and three color icons:
With each additional color, the dimensionality and emitted connotations of the icon also increased. I tried to be intentional with my color and white highlights, as well as balance the amount for a cohesive set. For example, within the two color, white highlights draw attention to certain areas of the icon; the shine is suggested in the lights of the bus, the dog's tag, the screw on the knife, and the propelling coin. 
This is my three color enlarged for viewing: 

Alvin Lustig, A Modern Persuasion

Alvin Lustig lived from 1915 to 1955. During his highschool years, a teacher introduced him to the concept of Modern art. Lustig was amazed and began to experiment with design, rather than yield to tradition. Some of his artistic endeavors included books, magazines, record albums, ads, commercial catalogs, annual reports, architecture, interiors, industrial designs, and textiles. Lustig believed good design should be applied to all aspects of life. Since he actually read the books he designed for, I feel Alvin Lustig was a passionate designer. I easily connect with his view.

If Lustig were to deliver a lecture on our campus, I believe he might appreciate these designs. I chose to focus on his architecture and textile background. He experimented with photomontage and also demonstrated a knowledge of color theory through his display of amazing color schemes.

These are a few of my potential poster designs:
(When I happened upon a few lovely textiles in Vanderslice Hall, a bell when off in my mind, Lustig designed textiles, I looked around to make sure no one else heard.)

original exercises of grid structures within type: the enlarged exercise was my favorite. I employed it in the above designs.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

you'd never guess I grew up baptist

Last semester I added mannequins to three of my photographs for a munsell color theory study:
I was attempting to add humor and a little narrative to the photos. The surprise (to me) was the level of sensuality that occurred.

And so, the mannequins have returned for the seven deadly sins project. The following are spreads from the book: (in order) lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride.

The colophon reads as follows:
All photographs were created in the artist’s living room in Kansas City, Missouri with: her favorite couch, Julie’s mannequin, random borrowed heads and limbs from ATC and color pieces of mat board duct-taped to the wall. Her dog did, in fact, attempt to eat a cupcake. He did not succeed. Additionally, all photographs of Tammy Shell were taken by Tammy Shell.

No actual sinning took place during the production of this book, although, I now have a date next Tuesday.