Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Designer Stefan Sagmeister

STEFAN SAGMEISTER (1962-) is among today’s most important graphic designers. Born in Austria, he now lives and works in New York. His long-standing collaborators include the AIGA and musicians, David Byrne and Lou Reed.

When Stefan Sagmeister was invited to design the poster for an AIGA lecture he was giving on the campus at Cranbrook near Detroit, he asked his assistant to carve the details on to his torso with an X-acto knife and photographed the result. Sunning himself on a beach the following summer, Sagmeister noticed traces of the poster text rising in pink as his flesh tanned.

 Poster for AIGA lecture in Cranbrook, Michigan, 1999

Now a graphic icon of the 1990s, that 1999 AIGA Detroit poster typifies Stefan Sagmeister’s style. Striking to the point of sensationalism and humorous but in such an unsettling way that it’s nearly, but not quite unacceptable, his work mixes sexuality with wit and a whiff of the sinister. Sagmeister’s technique is often simple to the point of banality: from slashing D-I-Y text into his own skin for the AIGA Detroit poster, to spelling out words with roughly cut strips of white cloth for a 1999 brochure for his girlfriend, the fashion designer, Anni Kuan. The strength of his work lies in his ability to conceptualise: to come up with potent, original, stunningly appropriate ideas.

Sagmeister has designed for clients as diverse as the Rolling Stones, HBO, and the Guggenheim Museum. Having been nominated eight times he finally won two Grammies for the Talking Heads and Brian Eno & David Byrne package designs. He has also earned practically every important international design award.

Stefan will be here in Middletown, PA on February 7 as a guest speaker for Society of Design
Reception: 6:00 p.m.   |   Presentation: 7:00 p.m.
Capital Union Building   |   Penn State Harrisburg   |   Middletown, PA 17057

View his TED Talks on Happiness By Design here or Designing with Slogans here.
Or visit his website http://www.sagmeister.com.

 Poster for the AIGA’s Fresh Dialogue talks in New York, 1996

 Poster for Lou Reed’s Set the Twilight Reeling, 1996

 Cover of David Byrne’s Feelings album, 1997

 Cover of Sagmeister: Made You Look, 2001

Stefan Sagmeister, Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far, 2008

Madness and Art: The Work of Adolf Wolfli

Swiss artist Adolph Wolfli (1864-1930) was one of the first artists associated with the Art Brut or "outsider" label. Physically and sexually abused as a child, Wolfli was orphaned at the age of ten and was raised in a series of foster homes.  He served as a farm laborer until he was arrested  and later committed to a psychiatric hospital where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Some time after being admitted, Wolfli began making art.  Walter Morgenthaler, a doctor at the hospital wrote: 

"Every Monday morning W├Âlfli is given a new pencil and two large sheets of unprinted newsprint. The pencil is used up in two days; then he has to make do with the stubs he has saved or with whatever he can beg off someone else. He often writes with pieces only five to seven millimetres long and even with the broken-off points of lead, which he handles deftly, holding them between his fingernails. He carefully collects packing paper and any other paper he can get from the guards and patients in his area; otherwise he would run out of paper before the next Sunday night. At Christmas the house gives him a box of coloured pencils, which lasts him two or three weeks at the most."

Wolfli's images were complex, intricate and intense.  He took his images right to the edges of his working surface with detailed borders and text, often incorporating musical notation as well.  The musical notes were initially  used as decorative elements, but eventually developed into real compositions which Wolfli would play on a paper trumpet.

In 1921, Walter Morganthaler published a monograph on Wolfli's life and work: Madness and Art: The Life and Works of Adolph Wolfli.  This was the first time that Wolfli's art was made public.

In 1945, Jean Dubuffet, artist and founder of Art Brut, discovered Wolfli's work, as did surrealist painter Andre Breton, who considered body of work " one of the three or four most important works of the twentieth century."


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Illustrator of the Week: Elwood Smith

Elwood H. Smith was born in Alpena, Michigan on May 23, 1941. He studied art at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and the Institute of Design at IIT in Chicago. After spending eight years learning typography and design as an art director for a small publishing company and several advertising agencies, Elwood began his career as a full-time illustrator.

In 1976, heeding the advice of encouraging friends, Elwood moved to New York City, establishing himself as one of the most highly recognizable and well respected professionals in the field of illustration. His illustrations have appeared regularly in Time, Newsweek, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, to name a few.

Smith, whose work is reminiscent of George Herriman's Krazy Kat cartoons of the 1930's, 

says this of his influences and process...

"Years ago, as I studied the technique of the old cartoon line masters, Elzie Segar (Popeye), Billy DeBeck (Barney Google) and George Herriman (Krazy Kat), I came to the conclusion that their choice of drawing tools was the core, the soul of their creations. Sure, they were funny writers and the characters they created and the world the characters inhabited were hilarious and original, but it seemed to me that the thing that made their work distinctive--that made their creations come alive--was the way in which they used their tools of choice. (Okay, I'm exaggerating somewhat to describe the enthusiasm I experienced back when I began to use those old Hunt and Crowquill dip pens.) I could plainly see in Segar's pencil sketches, the soul of Popeye The Sailor Man, but the India ink applied was the breath into the clay. The art remained incomplete until that small metal nib added its old black magic."

"I am enamored with the texture and feel of quality watercolor paper, the rich, flat colors I get from gritty watercolor pigment. Most of all, I value a pen nib that flows and flexes without complaint. I use the computer and the Wacom Cintiq drawing tablet, but I still get a genuine thrill when I feel my Pelikan nib flex against the Arches cold press watercolor paper."

Smith's Pelikan watercolor set:



Watch Elwood at work HERE.

Elwood Smith's WEBSITE.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Visual Thinking Project Three

Sophomore CA students in the Visual Thinking class at PCA&D recently completed their third project.  For this assignment, students were challenged to create an art piece of their choosing based on a World Record. This could be a painting, sculpture, video, etching, drawing, infographic, etc., as long as it creatively interpreted and illustrated a World Record of some sort.

Here are the project specs (click to enlarge):

And a selection of student work from all three sections:

Kristin Reynolds: Most Pumpkins carved in the shortest amount of time.

Vicky Newberry: World's Longest Legs

Alexandria Michaud:  Longest Video Game Marathon- 52 hours.

Gabby Hammaker: World's Loudest Purr by a Domestic Cat

Hailey Anuscavage: World's Longest Hair

Jason Herr: World's Tallest Dog

Dan McEwen: World's Largest Cup of Coffee

Jesus Rosario: World's Fastest Piggy Back Mile

Socheata Chhun: Word's Longest Hair

Charles Ferguson Avery: Longest Distance a Woman Threw a Man

Jacob Peck: World's Longest Ear Hair 

Kyle Newkirk: World's Largest Screwdriver