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ISSUE 1 / SPRING 2019

GRAPHIC ARTS & HOW IT SHAPES THE WORLD

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MICR

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FROM HOPE

TO NOPE PUNK GOES

DESIGNER GRAPHIC DESIGN

CAN SAVE

YOUR LIFE


SPRING vibes

SHOP NOW canary sun dress


FROM HOPE TO NOPE An exhibition at London’s Design Museum will present the most poignant political graphic iconography from the past decade, created in the wakes of events such as the Charlie...

PUNK GOES DESIGNER The curator of a new exhibition on punk graphics at Detroit’s Cranbrook Art Museum, has selected five key works that explore the movement in the United States and UK...

DESIGN CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE In 2013, I went to Zambia to report on a public health campaign aimed at persuading African men to get circumcised to help reduce the spread of HIV. Driving through the...

THE EYE OF DESIGN ... ONE VECTOR AT A TIME

When I started off in design, I sucked. I was obsessed with copying pieces of the trending Dribbble shots, but oblivious to how all the pieces worked together. If you....

It was a young and competitive environment. Most of the time my logos were selected as the logo that was going to be used for the project. So I thought, “maybe I’m...

ISSUE 1 / SPRING 2019 DESIGNED BY ANNALISA LINN

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n exhibition at London’s Design Museum will present the most poignant political graphic iconography from the past decade, created in the wakes of events such as the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Brexit, and Donald Trump’s presidency. Called Hope to Nope, the exhibition will feature traditional posters and banners that have widely circulated in popular culture in the past 10 years, as well as charting the rise of digital media and social networking.

“THE RISE OF SOCIAL MEDIA HAS CHANGED THE WAY GRAPHIC POLITICAL MESSAGES ARE MADE AND DISSEMINATED”

It plans to illustrate the role of graphic design and technology in influencing opinion, arousing debate, and encouraging activism – tracing the course from “hope” to “nope” with paraphernalia such as the iconic Barack Obama “Hope” poster by Shepard Fairey, which incited the Donald Trump “Nope” meme.

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“The exhibition demonstrates how technology and graphic design are weapons wielded by the powerful and the marginalised alike.”

“The rise of social media has changed the way graphic political messages are made and disseminated,” said the Design Museum. “As traditional media rubs shoulders with hashtags and memes, the influence and impact of graphic design has never been greater. Hope to Nope will also cover other landmark events such as the 2008 financial crash, the worldwide Occupy movement, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the Arab Spring. Composed of three main sections – Power, Protest and Personality – the show will feature a large graphic timeline, dividing the gallery space and charting the role of social technologies such as Facebook and Twitter in worldwide events from the past 10 years. Power will look at the ways in which graphic design is used by leading institutions to assert national and political authority, and how this has then been subverted by activists and rivals – for instance, when various Soviet posters were transformed into a gay rights campaign.

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The largest section in the exhibition, Protest, will showcase graphic design by campaigners and demonstrators, including an umbrella used during the 2014 Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution, newspapers from the 2011–12 Occupy London camp and responses to the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire. Lastly, the Personality section will display how leading political figures have been represented in graphic design, and among youth culture.


Examples include the younger generations’ support for Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, which manifested in an unofficial Nike t-shirt and an independently published comic book that portrays the party leader as a superhero. Caricatured illustrations of Donald Trump by major US publications such as The New Yorker, The Economist, and Time

will also be on show in this section. The Personality section also features paraphernalia such as the smiling Guy Fawkes mask, which preserves the identities of those involved in the international hacktivist network, Anonymous. Hope to Nope is co-curated by the Design Museum’s Margaret Cubbage and GraphicDesign&’s Lucienne Roberts and David Shaw, with Rebecca Wright, and will run from 28 March to 12 August 2018. The museum’s current exhibitions include Ferrari: Under the Skin – a retrospective celebrating 70 years of Ferrari design with 14 rare sports cars, which closes 15 April 2018. Other shows to look forward to in London include The Future Starts Here, opening at the Victoria and Albert Museum in May, which will imagine the future in 100 completed designs to attempt to eradicate uncertainty, including a crowd-funded pedestrian bridge, and the world’s first carbon-neutral, zero-waste city designed by Foster + Partners.

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The curator of a new exhibition on punk graphics at Detroit’s Cranbrook Art Museum, has selected five key works that explore the movement in the United States and UK. The exhibition titled Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics 1976-1986 focuses on the visual development of punk culture between 1976 and 1986. It contains approximately 500 of punk’s most memorable graphics – including flyers, posters, albums and zines.

transcended music to affect other fields such as visual art and design,” he explained. “Punk provided many new opportunities for designers” The exhibition aims to show punk “as a heterogeneous design practice” by examining its range of influences, including cartoons, comics, science fiction and horror films. Blauvelt also wanted to explore the development of DIY culture through punk zines and flyers and the use of parody and pastiche.

“Since its rebellious inception in the 1970s, punk has always exhibited very visual forms of expression,” said the curator of the exhibit Andrew Blauvelt. “The energy of the movement created a powerful subcultural phenomena that

“For designers, punk was tremendously influential in its DIY ethos. If punk birthed a thousand garage bands, it certainly birthed as many designers,” Blauvelt told Dezeen. “There is a clear trajectory in graphic design history, where punk


provided many new opportunities for designers to create work in which they passionately believed.” “Its raw amateurism was liberating and effectively ‘deskilled’ professional design long before the computer did,” he explained. “New wave music was the primary playing field of new wave graphics. The authenticity of punk is most appealing today.” Punk “telegraphed a more democratic approach to making culture” A majority of the pieces were selected from an archive belonging to New York collector Andrew Krivine. “[He] owns literally thousands of works and his collection is quite broad. Its breadth gave me a unique curatorial opportunity to look at punk graphics very broadly,” said Blauvelt. “Not only did punk reinvigorate the music scene by unleashing a thousand garage bands, it telegraphed a new more democratic, open-access approach to making culture in general. Today, things like graphic novels, alternative music stations, and street fashion all owe a debt of gratitude to punk,” he continued. Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics, 1976-1986 is on show at Cranbrook Art Museum between 16 June and 7 October. Below, Blauvelt writes about five key items featured in the exhibition:

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Arturo Vega, Ramones poster, 1975

Jamie Reid, poster for The Great Rock Arturo Vega (1947-2013) was a visual ‘N’ Roll Swindle, 1979 artist and is perhaps best remembered for Jamie Reid is perhaps punk’s best known his graphic design work for The Ramones. graphic designer, having crafted the Vega created the band’s famous logo, a unique visual look of the Sex Pistols’ take-off of the Seal of the President of the materials. Reid embraced the situationist United States, in which he replaced the technique of detournement, or cultural eagle’s clutched arrows with a baseball hijacking. In this poster to promote the bat, and the nation’s motto, E pluribus film, The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, unum, with the Ramone’s Hey Ho, Let’s Reid appropriates the advertising camGo. The eagle was a recurring motif for paign of American Express credit cards Vega in his own art work and one that (“Your Name Here”). The music indushe began to associate with the Ramones. try itself becomes the target, including This early poster for an unsigned bands the artist (“the prostitute”), the record contest at CBGB features a photograph company (“the pimp”), and the music by Vega of the artist wearing a white, business as a whole (“the swindle”). thick eagle-clad belt buckle. The posters were withdrawn and most copies destroyed when American Express threatened legal action.

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Peter Saville, poster for Joy Division Unknown Pleasures, 1979 This poster by Peter Saville, who first came to prominence for his designs for Factory Records, was issued to promote the debut album by Joy Division. The image is of successive waves recorded from a pulsar and was found in an astronomy textbook by band member Bernard Sumner. Saville reversed the image from black-on-white to white-on-black, conjuring the darker atmospherics of the album’s sound. The design has attained an iconic status, particularly of late, even spawning the term “joyplot” in data visualization, which is used to describe a style representing successive and comparative histograms

M&Co, poster for Talking Heads Remain in Light, 1980 Envisioning the look they wanted for their next album, bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz of the Talking Heads worked with Walter Bender and Scott Fisher of the MIT Media Lab to create the computer-generated images used on this poster. Weymouth and Fisher shared a passion for masks that drove the digital manipulation of the band members’ portraits. The four fighter planes flying in formation allude to the original title for the album, Attack Melody, and were a nod to Weymouth’s father, who served in the US Navy. Tibor Kalman’s M&Co created the graphic design and the typographic treatments for the album and poster, including the use of the upside down “A” in Talking Heads.

Jo Slee, poster for The Smiths The Boy with a Thorn in His Side, 1985 The Smiths lead singer and songwriter, Morrissey, eschewed the stereotypical band portraits used on record covers in favor of images of pop and film stars, including celebrities like James Dean and Candy Darling. Rendered in a range of duotones and designed by Jo Slee of Rough Trade records, The Smiths cover designs were easily identifiable and equally memorable. For this promotional poster for the hit single, The Boy with a Thorn in His Side, Morrissey chose a photo of a young Truman Capote taken by famed photographer, Cecil Beaton.

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The show brings into sharp focus the complex and often subliminal relationship between graphic design and health In 2013, I went to Zambia to report on a public health campaign aimed at persuading African men to get circumcised to help reduce the spread of HIV. Driving through the streets of the capital Lusaka, it was hard to miss the roadside walls painted with the campaign slogan and logo – a man standing tall, holding his belt. The image was intended to counter the local perception that circumcision would make you less of a man. I remember thinking it was clever, but I didn’t link it to any formal discipline. I’m reminded of this at the Wellcome Collection’s latest exhibition, Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? The show brings into sharp focus the complex and often subliminal relationship between graphic design and health. One exhibit in particular echoed that scene. During the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, Liberian designer Stephen Doe painted walls red to show danger and used simple iconography to convey the disease’s symptoms to a population among whom more than 30 languages were spoken – and few people could read or write. It is not unusual for graphic design to take a back seat where public health is concerned: bigger issues are at stake, after all. But the craftsmanship is vital, with a lot more to lose than just a poorly designed

advert in a commercial campaign. Take the infamously hard-hitting “Don’t die of ignorance” AIDS campaign, with that message dropped onto every UK doormat in the 1980s. The original sell, “Don’t aid AIDS”, was deemed much too soft. Had it not been, the outcome of help might have been very different. Visual protection So graphic design can save your life – and it could also stop you from getting punched in the face. In 2010, the UK’s Department of Health and the Design Council asked for ideas on how to reduce levels of violence in accident and emergency departments. The winning brief was a signage system that filled the information gaps driving patients to lose their cool. It explained, for instance, the triage system so those waiting knew why someone else might get seen before them. After a year-long trial, violence in A&Es dropped by 50 per cent. As Lucienne Roberts, a graphic designer and one of the curators, puts it: “We don’t just sell things, we do things.” But while this exhibition is a celebration of the vital

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Space to breathe Wellcome’s exhibition benefits from an intelligently curated area and pared-back selection of exhibits that have space to breathe. Among the familiar – the soft, squishy green font of the Macmillan Cancer campaign, designed to convey a sense of warmth and approachability – are hidden delights. For example, who knew that Florence Nightingale, with her bold pictorial representations of the unavoidable deaths in the British army, was one of the first to make use of the infographic? So effectively, in fact, that her drawings led to life-saving hospital reforms.

role of design in health, there’s an unexpected flip side: it shows us just how much influence public health and big pharma can have over design. In the 1950s and 60s, for example, pharmaceutical company Geigy became known for commissioning talented graphic designers to produce what would become iconic branding and promotional materials aimed at doctors. These became highly collectable and had a strong influence over future generations of designers. Or take the role of design in cigarette branding. When UK legislation banning named tobacco advertising was threatened in the 1980s, Saatchi & Saatchi came up with what went on to become one of the most iconic of cigarette ads – the surrealist-style Silk Cut campaign, in which each advert featured a piece of silk, cut in ever weirder ways. Not only did the adverts cleverly subvert the new legislation by implying the company’s name using cuts in the silk, they also flattered the audience by suggesting viewers were smart enough to be in on the joke. Then health legislation changed again. When plain packaging came in, designers working for the UK health department had to concentrate on how to dissuade rather than sell to would-be consumers. In Australia, market researchers tested various Pantone colour palettes for packaging to find out which were the biggest turn-offs. It turned out to be the murky Pantone 448, which evokes tar and pollution.

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What makes this exhibition so successful is that health is perhaps the most perfect field to help visitors don the shoes of the graphic designer. How do you convey intermittent pain, for instance, in a way that transcends language? How do you design an anti-smoking campaign that will fit on a postage stamp? Or explain how leprosy spreads with simple, easy pictures? In the final section of the exhibition, an even bigger question is posed: do designers have a responsibility to use their talents for the public good rather than consumerism? That’s an important decision for all of us, because in the end, it’s not just graphic design that is going to save your life, but the designers behind it.


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Graphic Arts & How It Shapes The World

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Graphic Arts & How It Shapes The World

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