The YOU in Your Work

When other people recognize your work, it is a great compliment. They may recognize your humorous attitude coming through the work or see a visual treatment that you have brought to many of your solutions in the past. These distinguishing characteristics reflect your style, which can come through you unconsciously. In fact, your style is you.

The places we’ve been and things we’ve seen, felt, or heard all broaden our vision as designers. They also define us. For example, a trip to Vermont to see the foliage could add to your color pallet; an unfortunate visit to a hospital’s emergency room could shock you into realizing how efficient people can be under pressure. In either case, both experiences will be internalized: you will realize that a recent design has a color you never thought about using before, or it has an energized immediacy about it. These influences can come from everywhere. Can you trace them back? The fact that some place or thing might feed your work is, in effect, acknowledging connections with your larger culture, community, and environment. A good example of this dynamic is a visual series on the impact of the Iraq war by Maria Uroos. She grew up in the Middle East and felt a need to create a visual dialogue about the changes in life, culture, and religion that she saw there. Her tools include text and image, metaphors and analogies, elements and principles. All convey thoughts about the region where she lived, fleshed out into a form that is meant to extend conversations. Each piece begins with her.

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In a design experiment by Janet Lee, whose family is in retail fashion, two activities are merged into one composition. She created a montage of typography with a dress form, color chips with fabric swatches, and single-edge cutting blades with scissors. The art historian E. H. Gombrich (1909–2001) wrote, “Anyone who can handle a needle convincingly can make us see a thread which is not there.” The connection this designer makes to retail fashion isn’t necessarily there either, but is more a myth that forges a connection to something more personal and perhaps more meaningful to her. She uses that same ability to tell stories and making connections when creating works for her clients.

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In another piece, Rick Valicenti examines his own future role as a graphic designer. The poster’s purpose is to announce a design lecture in Vancouver, Canada, and the character pictured—a jester that is full of remorse—is a portrait of Valicenti himself. Hanging off his hat is a flickering sign that reads “HUGE.” The ghostlike, wispy image of an old man beside his own face hints at his later life. Together, the images make a social comment about whether this effort is all there is in Valicenti’s future, and for that matter, in the profession as a whole. In other words, designers can be practical problem-solvers (such as finding a way to announce an event), but also passionate artists whose work also matters in terms of making a positive difference in the world.

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From Guide to Graphic Design, by Scott W. Santoro, Pearson Education

Also posted on LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/you-your-work-scott-w-santoro

From Cave to Code

My young son once asked, ‘Why are we here?’, writes Scott W. Santoro. When the question was flipped back to him, ‘Why do you think we are here, Ellis?’, he responded, ‘To learn stuff!’

Ellis was right. If for no other reason, we’re here to learn stuff, and graphic design makes it easy. Our field is so rife with varied subjects that we can’t help ourselves – it is almost forced upon us.

When Pearson Education asked me to produce a graphic design textbook five years ago, I went through everything I know about the subject, and learned a lot more in the process.

read more

eye-blog

Aussie design heaven

This must be what design heaven looks like. The image attached is a showing of some of the winning posters that I helped select in a September 2010 judging as part of the Australian Graphic Design Association. The competition had a theme—to explain what graphic design can mean to the community socially, culturally, and financially.

Gummie Bier

Another label for Dr. Benny, this time for his latest creation, Gummie Bier. See Stim-u-ale in a previous blog entry (below). The labels are really used promotionally. They aren’t meant to sell the beer off the shelf, but are emailed to Dr. Benny’s friends and family, in order to properly celebrate the latest brew. My payment is in actual beer, and great food (at their party). I consider this a graphic design perk.beerbottles

 

stim-u-ale

An exciting project came through the studio last week: to design a beer label, with payment being in actual beer. My client—Dr. Benny—was introduced to me at my son’s friend’s six-year-old birthday party. Dr. Benny explained to me after we sang and had cake, that the product’s uniqueness is the coca-cola he added to the recipe. I believe I’m only getting five bottles for my time—maybe that’s all the design is really worth—but it might be enough either way. The best part, after all, is that I was able to find a fun use for an early 1970’s typeface by Ed Benguiat called “Charisma.” Must have found its way into my type archive via a publishing catalog we were designing years ago. But how often does a designer get to use a personality-loaded typeface like this one in a seriously not-so-serious way!

beerlabels