ATypI Tokyo 2019

September 7, 2019

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I just gave a talk at ATypI Tokyo 2019 called “From Bijin-ga to Brutus”, which is derived from the latter part of my recent publication The Thing.

“From Bijin-ga to Brutus” is one of the least known stories in Japanese graphic design history is the emergence of Sun Studio / サン・スタジオ, one of Japan’s very first graphic design studios.

Sun Studio was run by poster designer Hokuu Tada / 多田北烏 (1889–1948), who influenced countless early graphic designers and typographers in Japan in the Taishō and Shōwa periods through his contributions to the literature of nascent commercial art. Posters designed by Tada for Kirin Beer festoon countless businesses in Japan today, intimating a sense of nostalgia and history in the bustling megalopolis—yet the story behind them is largely unknown.

Another important figure, one whose story has largely been disconnected from greater Japanese graphic design history, is Seiichi Horiuchi/ 堀内誠一 (1933–1987), whose design work for Japanese lifestyle magazines largely defines Japanese consumer-fashion culture today.

This heavily illustrated presentation will explore the direct historical connection between Tada and Horiuchi—from the birth of commercial art (商業美術) in Japan to the refinement of graphic design (グラフィックデザイン), helping to contextualize both historical and contemporary graphic design and typography.

Read more about the presentation here.

Arrow of Light

July 16, 2019

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I designed two logos for the Portland, Oregon supergroup Arrow of Light. This is one of them.

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This is the other.

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I also designed two new 24″ x 36″ fluorescent posters for them. Get them at their debut show!

 

DWPA!

June 25, 2019

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A recent logo design for the Democratic Women of the Prescott Area, as a feminist and an overseas voter in Arizona, it is a group that I am very proud to support.

Women have always been a key part of Arizona politics.  Jerry Emmett, the founder of the DWPA, who is now 104 years old, reminds us that in Arizona, women had the right to vote and hold office in 1912 as part of the state’s constitution eight years before the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The DWPA seeks to encourage women to participate in all levels of service and government whether running for office, or assuming support roles and leadership positions in our community and in our state.

The Democratic Women of the Prescott Area’s mission is to engage, unite, and empower women to promote the principles of the Democratic Party and to attain public office and leadership positions in Arizona.

The cat’s out of the bag!

June 22, 2019

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I’ll be joining the CalArts MFA in Graphic Design Program as Visiting Critic this year, with 3 residencies working with MFA students on their thesis projects.

Portland Stamp Company with Mr. Keedy!

June 12, 2019

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Out now: a poster stamp design for The Portland Stamp Company designed with CalArts faculty member and longtme Emigre contributor Mr. Keedy.

Poster stamps are a design format that I include in lectures about some of Japan’s earliest graphic design publications in my Japanese Graphic Design History class. I am super-pumped that Josh Berger of Plazm/Portland Stamp Company (one of the first people to have ever given me a design-related job) invited us to create one—it is like living history all over again!

Keedy and I were interviewed about our poster stamp design here:

https://theportlandstampcompany.com/artist-series/ian-lynam-x-jeff-keedy/

(Soundtrack.)

Arts Excursions Unlimited reboot

May 17, 2019

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We just redesigned and relaunched Arts Exursions Unlimited’s website. Check it out here: http://www.artsexcursionsunlimited.com/

Arts Excursions Unlimited is a free, community-driven, monthly arts and cultural experience for residents in the Greater Hazelwood neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We are incredibly proud of our work with such a driven, socially engaged arts initiative.

Slanted #33

May 16, 2019

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I have a new essay in Slanted #33 titled “Emmet”.

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Or “Creation Story”.

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Or “A Story for Design Teachers*”.

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The subtitle is: “A parable about life, understanding, and getting out of the house.” An excerpt:

She took me to a house that was shared by a bunch of other people who had icons and symbols and writings on their faces and were also vegan and also wore black clothing that they sewed together with dental floss when it fell into disrepair which they rarely washed and which offered forth a gleam under the moonlight when they dug the things they would eat out of the dumpsters in the city.

They thought that I was like them and I thought that they were like me.

They were wrong.

I was wrong.

They thought I didn’t talk because I didn’t want to.

You can pick up a copy here: https://www.slanted.de/en/product/slanted-33-prague/

Total Armageddon

March 30, 2019

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I am thrilled to announce that my newest book Total Armageddon is out now via Slanted Publishers.

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When the Slanted editorial team asked me if I might be interested in editing a book that pulled the best writing from the first 32 issues of their magazine, I leaped at the chance. I invited some of my favorite design writers to contribute, as well, because I wanted Total Armageddon to be much more than just an anthology. I wanted it to stand as a mile marker in design theory, and I think it does just that.

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Some of the best writing from the past decade-plus related to design is included, notably Randy Nakamura’s “On Equilibrium and Sottsass”, Natalia Ilyin’s “On Shooting Butterflies”, Kenneth FitzGerald’s “Singing the Surface” and Mr. Keedy’s “The Global Style”.

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Total Armageddon is available here. I hope that you like it.

The Thing & Visual Strategies for the Apocalypse

March 15, 2019

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I am very excited to announce that I have two brand-new booklets that just came out: The Thing and Visual Strategies for the Apocalypse.

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The Thing is about the problematics of design, designers, and design history. It is an 88-page zine that examines thorny aspects of design, designers, and design history.

Also, The Thing glows in the dark.

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Topics within:
– Vikings
– Netflix binge-watching as a metaphor for lived experience
– Problematic relationships with objects
– Earthquakes which turned into literal firestorms which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people
– Japanese graphic design history
– Picking locks
– Secrets behind how to edit
– Nostalgia
– Guilt and Shame

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You can see a microsite that I designed for The Thing here: http://thing.wordshape.com

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Visual Strategies for the Apocalypse is about overcoming what I term “Creative Constipation™”. It is a 112-page booklet with contributions from leading designers and design educators like Matthew Scott Barnes, Natalia Ilyin, Nikki Juen, Yoon Soo Lee, Matthew Monk, David Peacock, Michael Scaringe, and Lorena Howard-Sheridan, along with James Hultquist-Todd of JTD Type, James Edmondson of Oh No Type Co, visual artist Griffin McPartland, Adolf Loos and the late Koichi Sato.

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Topics within:

– The relationship between Big Tech and child labor
– The even more complicated relationship between Fast Fashion and Thor, God of Thunder
– Space, time and selfishness
– Contrast, cropping and partying
– Chance processes
– Imitation, flattery, history and desktop publishing
– Collage as strategy
– The function of drawing
– Ornament and making shit up

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More info about Visual Strategies for the Apocalypse is here in the micro-site that I designed for it: http://apocalypse.wordshape.com

Feature in IDEA/アイデア #385

March 12, 2019

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I have a 32-page feature in the latest issue of IDEA magazine, Japan’s oldest and best graphic design magazine.

An excerpt from the essay that I wrote for the feature:

In Oregon, I discovered that graphic design was the formalized version of what I had been doing for the previous decade-plus making zines and went back to school to study graphic design, which I had previously called “layout”. I worked at a few design firms, and then was hired at small studio called Plazm where they had a massive collection of copies of IDEA, this very same magazine that you are holding in your hands. IDEA in the early 2000s was insane. Each issue was made with more love than any American graphic design magazine or book at that time—there were different papers, printing techniques, a lot of really weird content, tipped-in books, and posters folded in to the magazine. Seeing IDEA gave me an expanded notion of what graphic design could be, something that was very much missing from American design culture at that time.

It made me kind of hate American graphic design.

This magazine that you have in front of you changed my life. I am going to state this rather unequivocally: if I had not found IDEA, I think that my life would be very, very different, and I am quite sure that it would be an unsatisfactory version compared to the life that I have now.

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I mean what I wrote in IDEA #385. Being actually featured was something that I considered a total pipe dream for years, even having written for the magazine, designing many of the things I wrote, collaborating on curatorial and editorial projects with the former editor-in-chief Kiyonori Muroga, and maintaining friendships with the cast of characters that make IDEA happen four times a year for over a decade.

I am incredibly honored to be featured in the pages of IDEA. It was an invitation to the very last known dream that I have had of my career to date, and one that I dreamed of for twenty years.

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I would like to thank IDEA’s editor-in-chief Madoka Nishi for asking me to be included, and for allowing me to design and write the feature.

It is a very rare thing when one gets to curate their own content and to be trusted to do the right thing.

Randy Nakamura did a bang-up job of editing my essay, as he has always done, and Emma Okubo provided a faithful and accurate translation of my writing.

Martin Holtkamp shot beautiful portrait photography, something easier said than done.

Jeremy Lanig, Carly Diaz, David L. Reamer, Koichi Tomimura, Michael Holmes, Matthew Scott Barnes, Anthony Pagani, Mark/Naoki Rogers, Lars Harmsen, Hannah Smith, and Satoshi Aoyagi all provided amazing photography of assorted projects.

My dear VCFA alumni and friends Laura Rossi Garcia and Chad Miller graciously allowed their thesis work at VCFA’s MFA in Graphic Design program to be included, as well. (Their work meets at the critical juncture of feminism and hardcore—one of my favorite junctures.)

This feature, titled “Locality & Fracture” explains my practice that spans design research, design education, a commercial and cultural studio practice, and foray into type design exceedingly well. I am happy with how it turned out. I think you very well might enjoy reading it.

You can procure a copy here: http://wordshape.com/idea-385-locality/

Apparently I have to make up some new dreams now.

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