Monday, April 27, 2009

Post Structuralism and the Future of Graphic Design

Tonight we saw Post Structuralism, which is challenging hierarchies, where Deconstruction is questioning motives. Barbara Krooger is one inspirational artist who made her work in such a way that she had you “see the text and read the image”. I am personally a fan of her myself and thought some works such as the cover of Marie Antoinette was a beautiful example of her kind of work but not with the same seriousness attempt to bring into question what images mean to us and how the words interpret the meaning for us. Cultural Jam is a style that I have seen often where a familiar logo is used to promote your own cause or group. It is another version of this style where images that are associated with a certain feeling or thought are put out of context and given a new meaning. Though graphic design has evolved so much and it is believed that nothing new can be done, I believe design as well as other forms of art will always have something new to offer us. It will always have something new to say and we should not feel that being influenced by the history of design is not unoriginal, but a connection we make with that history only to make further connections to it in future with new ideas associated with it thus giving it new meaning.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Tonight we watched a video that took us through some of the stage of after modernism. From when modernism was considered brilliant and awarded to when it was torn, ripped, and literally blown up. The reactionary style of post modernism is clear in many cases where the door was opened for use of symbols and color.
It was said tonight that Postmodernism is "storytelling in the interest of the powerful". This is a time that asks, "who's side are you on?" Postmodernists rejected the old corporate style bringing new life and vibrancy back into graphic design. Especially for a culture fueled by sex, drugs, and music, during a time of war, this style was their voice. It also transcends any particular medium, embracing all forms of are and combining them in design. This when we consider to be the "end of originality". From this point on there is only repetition. Layers and fragmenting of information is common and very intuitive. New wave typography is quickly picked up by the corporate world as something to experience before it is read. This is how much of design was throughout the 80s. I thoroughly enjoy 80s style design though it is very easily recognized as a style of that period and seems to be coming back in some ways. The neon colors of this time are not really my style but I appreciate them for their boldness and how it was able to break molds and limitations.

Discourse #2

Paul Rand: The Modern Designer

• Graphic Design is Everywhere
• The Art of Visual Ideas
• Reflection of Economic Realities
• Before the Wars Design was Dry
• Ornament became a kind of Aesthetic Panacea
• WWII propaganda - High Politicized and Socially Polarized Nation
• Paul Rand - Arguably the Most Celebrated American Graphic Designer
• "Less is More"
• Sentiment and Subjectivity Supplanted Logic and Clarity of Purpose
• To Add Value and Meaning
• A Carefully Orchestrated Vocabulary of Simple Form
• The Evolution of Corporate Identity
• Playing the Variable Against the Constant
• A Modern Mark is a Simple Mark
• Stripes take a kind of Visual Identity
• Cross-cultural, Timeless, and Accessible

Graphic Design is Everywhere

These universal signs and symbols are examples of how graphic design is all around us. We use these symbols to communicate ideas that are understood by most any person of most any culture or background and education level. For Paul Rand these types of symbols were the most effective. Those that could cross cultures, languages, and degree of education to reach the vast majority. I would agree that these symbols serve their purpose well but can be rather bland and boring. It may work well for this type of communication but is not necessarily the best solution for all graphic design problems.

Less is More

This is an example of simple design. A design that uses simple shapes and lines to create motion and depth in the piece. Paul Rand believed that the more simple the design the more impact it would have. I believe that to be true in with most design. I think design is easily cluttered with useless elements that make it confusing or over designed. But something like this works really well and illustrates how simple forms can create a dynamic work. Again, I believe simple design is not always the solution because too simple can make it boring. But it is always smart to avoid unnecessary elements in design.

The Evolution of Corporate Identity

This is the update UPS had made to their corporate identity. Though it still maintains the general shape it did when designed by Paul Rand, it has a distinctly more modern look. The old UPS logo lasted some 35 years until it's redesign. I imagine the new logo will not last as long. Times change faster now and updates to corperate identities must be made in order to keep up with the times. I agree that having a consistent logo is beneficial so perhaps making minor tweets is the solution but staying with a dated logo is a bad business decision in my opinion. Not reinventing the wheel but updating with the times.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Missed Class Tonight

Monday, April 6, 2009

Symbols, Advertising, and the Swiss

Universal symbols are created and used during this period to explain things to people with images that are easily recognized and deciphered. They were designed simplistically so that they could be reproduced by just about anybody. This is also the period when advertising design begins. This is the form of design whose goal it is to make the viewer desire that which is being shown in the design. In this way, designers are responsible for giving products and companies a 'face'. That way people can easily recognize them and know who they are by a sign or symbol that's consistently used in the design as well as a consistent style to each advertisement.
We also learned more about Swiss design tonight. Their approach to design is very structured with grids and lines. Their goal was often to create movement in the piece. They were masters at this type of design and it has been imitated for decades. I have found myself to be very inspired by Swiss design as well. Though I try to use they kind of structure I also like to incorporate a more organic feel to my work.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Vision of the 20th Century

Art Deco is defined by the visual motion and movement that is created by the illustrated forms. A time when machines of war turning into machines of transportation. A time when cars are mass produced. It is were we see the birth of branding and when symbols become paramount to design and the message conveyed by the works (usually posters). Propaganda is used to scare and persuade people to act according to the motivation of the political movements. Illustrations were very powerful and Americans basically copied the European style. America didn't develop their own design style until later. Seeing how graphic design evolves reminds me of my own processes in developing my work. Styles need to be experimented with to see what's possible before you wipe the slate clean and try something new.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Emergence of Modern Graphic Design

This is the period when graphic design begins to be taught and studied formally. Much of the architecture and design of this time is still done in new architecture and designs. Guidelines were drawn and in order to be considered a 'modern designer' you had to follow the rules. Many of the designs by these modern designers are still around and still fit with the current design styles of today. Simplicity becomes beauty, form follows function, and that which is economical is the most successful. Though modern design goes through this strict phase of dos and don'ts, it again is turned back to breaking the rules and recycling the designs of the past. Allowing design to open back up greatly benefited the field and it breaks free while still keeping in mind some of the things learned along the way. I can relate to the need of going through the motions to discover why certain things work, what they represent, and how the elements function. Making rules along the way is, I think, very natural. It's as natural as it is to, at some point, throw it all out the window and start again.