Surprise: new font releases and a logo design.

SmytheSoft Pro by Ian LynamSmytheSoft Pro by Ian Lynam

I just released two new typeface families. The first is SmytheSans Pro.

SmytheSoft Pro by Ian Lynam

SmytheSoft Pro is a contemporary workhorse sans serif family that is eminently readable on-screen and in print. It is an updated display version of our popular family Smythe Sans with custom rounded terminals, rigorously spaced and kerned. SmytheSoft Pro includes Western, Central and Eastern European and Vietnamese character sets and is offered in five Roman and Italic weights: thin, ultra light, light, regular and bold.

SmytheSoft Pro by Ian Lynam

SmythSoft Pro features a large x-height, ample yet economic spacing for capitals, and subtle ink traps for less-than-perfect printing conditions (which can be exploited as design features at large scale). All of the capitals from the old Smythe Sans Display family are folded in to SmytheSoft Pro as OpenType accessible stylistic alternates—NASA-inspired space age alternate caps galore! The original Smythe Sans family featured Italic and Oblique cuts—in SmytheSoft Pro, the more calligraphic italic characters are available via OpenType-accessible stylistic sets. Each weight of SmytheSoft Pro features a bespoke paragraph mark which varies from weight-to-weight and includes over 100 ornaments, kinetic rules, symbols and pattern-making glyphs so that one might use SmytheSoft Pro as a complete design kit.

SmytheSoft Pro by Ian Lynam

The members of the SmytheSoft Pro family:
SmytheSoft Pro Thin
SmytheSoft Pro Thin Italic
SmytheSoft Pro ExtraLight
SmytheSoft Pro ExtraLight Italic
SmytheSoft Pro Light
SmytheSoft Pro Light Italic
SmytheSoft Pro Regular
SmytheSoft Pro Italic
SmytheSoft Pro Bold
SmytheSoft Pro Bold Italic

SmytheSoft Pro by Ian Lynam

The lighter weights are slightly slimmer than the regular and bold weights to give the typeface more of a vertical feel, inviting readers’ to rapidly read typeset text with a maximum of contrast and a minimum of optical dazzle. All work well on-screen as webfonts and in print as book type. Each is hinted with accuracy and kerned with precision.

SmytheSoft Pro by Ian Lynam

SmytheSoft Pro is an eminently readable typeface, particularly at small sizes on-screen. The strokes throughout are modulated to enhance humanist expression, with high-contrast horizontal slices taken out of certain letterforms to keep readers’ eyes moving forward in text. The typeface’s tendency toward a tall x-height was carried through the single-storied font with more horizontal characteristics for enhanced readability while being super-friendly and bright in appearance.

SmytheSoft Pro by Ian Lynam

Features of SmytheSoft Pro:
– complete Western, Central and Eastern European characters sets optimized for text typesetting
– radically improved spacing guaranteeing beautiful results in print and on screen for the Czech, English, Hungarian, Croatian, Esperanto, Maltese, Romanian, Turkish, Albanian, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Basque, Bulgarian, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and Vietnamese languages

SmytheSoft Pro by Ian Lynam

– all lowercase characters have an enlarged x-height, creating less optical dazzle than typefaces like Futura, Neutra or Avant Garde
– ink traps to enhance smooth printing when using less-than-optimum production processes like Risograph or if a press is overloaded with ink
– retro-futuristic alternate characters for most capitals
– 100+ ornament, kinetic rules, forms, symbols and pattern-making glyphs

SmytheSoft Pro by Ian Lynam

SmytheSoft Pro is available most affordably from Wordshape—$100 for all ten weights. Check it out here.

SmytheSoft Pro by Ian Lynam

The family is also available from YouWorkForThem, Creative Market and soon, MyFonts.

SmytheSans Pro by Ian Lynam

The second family of type is SmytheSans Pro. Essentially, SmytheSoft Pro is SmytheSans Pro with rounded terminals.

SmytheSans Pro by Ian Lynam

SmytheSans Pro is an updated version of our popular family Smythe Sans — we extended the characters sets, redrew most of the characters, rigorously spaced and kerned the entire family, and added a bunch of new features.

SmytheSans Pro by Ian Lynam

Smythe Sans Pro includes Western, Central and Eastern European and Vietnamese character sets and is offered in five weights: thin, ultra light, light, regular and bold.

SmytheSans Pro by Ian Lynam

The members of the SmytheSans Pro family:
SmytheSans Pro Thin
SmytheSans Pro Thin Italic
SmytheSans Pro ExtraLight
SmytheSans Pro ExtraLight Italic
SmytheSans Pro Light
SmytheSans Pro Light Italic
SmytheSans Pro Regular
SmytheSans Pro Italic
SmytheSans Pro Bold
SmytheSans Pro Bold Italic

SmytheSans Pro by Ian Lynam

Features of Smythe Sans Pro:
– complete Western, Central and Eastern European characters sets optimized for text typesetting
– radically improved spacing guaranteeing beautiful results in print and on screen for the Czech, English, Hungarian, Croatian, Esperanto, Maltese, Romanian, Turkish, Albanian, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Basque, Bulgarian, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and Vietnamese languages
– all lowercase characters have an enlarged x-height, creating less optical dazzle than typefaces like Futura, Neutra or Avant Garde
– ink traps to enhance smooth printing when using less-than-optimum production processes like Risograph or if a press is overloaded with ink
– retro-futuristic alternate characters for most capitals
– 100+ ornament, kinetic rule, form, symbol and pattern-making glyphs

SmytheSans Pro by Ian Lynam

SmytheSans Pro is available directly from my type foundry Wordshape, as well as YouWorkForThem, Creative Market and MyFonts soon.

Hannah Smith Photo logo by Ian Lynam

Why the name “Smythe”, anyway? Here’s the backstory: my dear friend Hannah Smith lived in Tokyo for many years and we are insanely close. The Smythe families are named after her. “Smythe” is my annoying nickname for her. I just designed the logo for Hannah’s photo studio in Sydney, Australia. She does amazing work (like many of the photos on this website) and is one of the best humans on this planet.

Plux Quba


I just published my new essay “Plux Quba: the Era of Neoliberal Design”. You can read it in print in Slanted #27 or online here. The subhead for this essay is “Cannibals in the cloud, or understanding design today”. Within: mobile devices, the cloud, the present and the future.

Weddings & Not Weddings


My essay “Weddings” is now available to read in full-length format over at Modes of Criticism.

Thomas Jockin was kind enough to interview me for his TypeThursday series of interviews. Read it here.

I will be giving a lecture called “The Tokyo Olympics’ Visual Identity and Japanese Graphic Design History” at Lakeland College in Shinjuku on July 14th. You can find out more about the lecture here.

The Road to Brno

Ian Lynam and Kiyonori Muroga of Idea Magazine at Brno Biennial

I’m taking off in a few days to head to Brno in the Czech Republic for the 27th Brno Biennial. Kiyonori Muroga and I will be speaking on June 18 alongside design luminaries like Jon Sueda, Wayne Daly, Emily King and Manuel Raeder. You can see details here.

As mentioned earlier, Muroga-san and I are curating The Study Room at the Biennial.

The Study Room is organized into nine different thematic ‘islands’, loose groupings that explode national boundaries and general Orientalizing tendencies – instead unifying collections of publications under intuitive rubrics of expression.

The Islands:

  • Ordering the World
  • Connecting Cultures
  • Configuration of Space
  • Gesture
  • Symbolism & Culture-building
  • Space & Texture
  • Modernity-building
  • Poesis
  • Organizing Contemporary Culture
  • Visualizing Language
  • Analysis

Each island is populated by publications proposed by designers with some connection to Asia chosen by Muroga-san and I. The contributors to the Study Room include:

  • Aaron Nieh, Taipei
  • Åbäke, London
  • Kyungsun Kymn, Seoul
  • Yah-Leng Yu / Foreign Policy Design Group, Singapore
  • Yukimasa Matsuda, Tokyo
  • Javin Mo, Hong Kong
  • Leonard Koren, San Francisco
  • Philippe Egger, Villars-sur-Glâne
  • Daijiro Ohara, Tokyo
  • Caryn Aono, Los Angeles
  • Shutaro Mukai, Tokyo
  • Yoshihisa Shirai, Tokyo
  • Guang Yu, Beijing
  • Fumio Tachibana, Tokyo
  • Kohei Sugiura, Tokyo
  • Kenya Hara, Tokyo
  • Helmut Schmid, Osaka
  • Nobuhiro Yamaguchi, Tokyo
  • HeiQuiti Harata, Tokyo
  • Jens Müller, Düsseldorf
  • Xiao Mage & Cheng Zi, Beijing
  • Shin Akiyama, Niigata
  • Wang Zhi-Hong, Taipei
  • Tetsuya Goto, Osaka
  • John Warwicker, Melbourne
  • so+ba / Alex Sonderegger + Susanna Baer, Zurich & Tokyo
  • Peter Biľak, The Hague
  • Ryan Hageman, Chicago
  • Hattori Kazunari, Tokyo
  • Na Kim, Seoul
  • Kirti Trivedi, Mumbai
  • Lu Jingren, Beijing
  • Santi Lawrachawee, Bangkok
  • Chris Ro, Seoul
  • Randy Nakamura, Los Angeles
  • Sulki and Min Choi, Seoul

Muroga-san and I each contributed one book each to particular islands, and you know, I’m pretty damn excited about the Study Room collection. It’s got some really exciting, super-rare books—some are super-strange, others are more sober, and many explode our ideas of what books might or might not be. As a collection, it is not overly academic, nor is it overly pedestrian. It will surprise and delight, and *that* is the best.

Okojo Pro extended family

Okojo Slab Pro and Okojo Pro font family by Ian Lynam

We had three major font family releases this week. The first is the Okojo Pro family of typefaces.

The Okojo Pro Complete family is a reworking of Wordshape’s immensely popular Okojo family of typefaces. It includes Okojo Pro, a semi-geometric sans serif, Okojo Slab Pro, a semi-geometric slab serif, Okojo Pro Display, a round-cornered sans serif variation, and Okojo Slab Pro Display, a round-cornered slab serif.

The entire Okojo Pro family looks great at small or large sizes. The Okojo Pro family is designed for readability in long texts while simultaneously functioning as effective display type.

Features of Okojo Pro Display:
– all lowercase characters have an enlarged x-height, creating less optical dazzle than typefaces like Futura, Neutra or Avant Garde
– more humanist numerals and punctuation for enhanced readability
– complete Western, Central and Eastern European characters sets
– radically improved spacing guaranteeing beautiful results in print and on screen for the Czech, English, Hungarian, Croatian, Esperanto, Maltese, Romanian, Turkish, Albanian, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Basque, Bulgarian, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian languages

The Okojo Pro Display family is influenced by the type designs of Paul Renner and Herb Lubalin, but smoothed over with more than a bit of Americana.

Both work well on-screen as webfonts and in print as book type. Each is hinted with accuracy and kerned with precision.The lighter weights are slightly slimmer than the regular and bold weights to give the typeface more of a vertical feel, inviting readers’ to rapidly read typeset text with a maximum of contrast and a minimum of optical distortion.

Okojo: it’s a little bit country and a little bit rock’n’roll.

Okojo Pro is available from Wordshape, YouWorkForThem, Creative Market, Fontspring and MyFonts.

OkojoPro Stack font family by Ian Lynam

Once upon a time, a young man with scribbles on his face rapped the words, “Stacks on stacks on stacks”. Prophetic. Engaging. And more than anything―*inspiring*!

Our second major release lately, OkojoPro Stack is a family of six stackable sans serif typefaces: three layers of extrusion, a solid face, and two ornamental stepped layers―Sunset and Sunrise.

You can use the different type faces together to create ornamental headline typography with thousands of different possible combinations. Bonus: The face layer is a rugged bold typeface that has been spaced and kerned for text typesetting.

Combine this family with the Okojo Pro Family of typefaces to create exquisite, eye-catching layouts for print or screen.

Okojo Pro Stack: Stack ’em up!

Okojo Pro Stack is available from Wordshape, YouWorkForThem, Creative Market, Fontspring and MyFonts.

Okojo Slab Pro Stack font family by Ian Lynam

Our third big release is Okojo Slab Pro Stack—another family of six stackable slab serif typefaces: three layers of extrusion, a solid face, and two ornamental stepped layers―Sunset and Sunrise.

Okojo Slab Pro Stack is available from Wordshape, YouWorkForThem, Creative Market, Fontspring and MyFonts.

All three families were designed in conjunction and work smashingly as an extended superfamily of clean workhorse fonts.

Scribble Guys!

Ian Lynam's Scribble Guys on YouWorkForThem

I just released a new collection of 24 different ultra-cute and expressive characters in vector form called “Scribble Guys” over at YouWorkForThem—check it out here.

Start Somewhere & Species Regret

Species Regret Ian Lynam

It’s been a weird couple of months—somehow I got the idea in my head that I was going to write a new book somewhere in Q1, plus have ‘an exhibition of writing’ associated with said book. The strangest thing is that it is not a book about graphic design at all, or it is only tangentially—this new book, titled Species Regret, is a collection of short fiction stories about mythology and contemporary culture.

I am having an exhibition at Goya Curtain in Nakameguro that is really short—only two days. And on those two days, I am going to read four bespoke pieces of writing explaining the ideas surrounding the book, a few stories from the book, a few stories that didn’t make it into the book and a few stories that I have written since the book was printed.

Exhibition info:

June 3rd – June 4th, 2016 (3PM – 7PM)
Friday, June 3rd at 4PM & 6PM
Saturday June 4th at 4PM & 6PM

The blurb from Goya Curtain’s website:

Goya Curtain is pleased to present Species Regret, an exhibition of writing, sound, installation and prints by Ian Lynam. The exhibition is accompanied by the release of a new book of collect-ed fiction in a signed and numbered limited edition of 100, which will be available for sale for ¥2000 each.

In lieu of a traditional opening, there will be a series of 4 unique informal readings drawing from material within Species Regret’s greater cosmology, including unpublished writing.

Species Regret explores notions of what the world might be like if gods of the Hellenic and Norse tradition walked the earth today. Within the exhibition, the development of identity of self is examined through object relations study, mythology, projection, introjection and, ultimately, narrative.

Quoting the introduction to Lynam’s new book, “Today, we live in more or less a godless world—we look to the collapse of the Greek economy rather than to Hellenic tradition. This es-chewing of the past and what is culturally perceived as the basis of Western civilization offers up further identification with the gods and heroes of yore: if gods and their offspring walked the earth today, they would be irrelevant beings of tradition and immense might. Simultaneously, they would be losers of the sorest sort—defeated, withdrawn, aimless and immensely fucked-up.”

Drawing upon the narratives within his new book, Lynam has created a series of darkly resonant standalone typographic prints alongside a two-track cassette tape soundtrack that explores the concept of identificatory mimetism—the negotiation of the projected and introjected self in relation to mythology. Accompanying these elements are an installation of insidious found objects presented as seeming evidence as to the presence of the supernatural in our world.

Copies of Species Regret will be available at the exhibition, then later online.

Start Somewhere by Ian Lynam While I was writing Species Regret, I came up with the idea for another publication, titled Start Somewhere: A Handbook of Dubious Exercises, Tips and Rants About Becoming A Designer Who Writes. I had just returned home from teaching in Vermont and met with a ton of students who were having the hardest time generating their own content. Start Somewhere is my attempt at suggesting how designers might create work of their own—projects which involve design and writing, but that are fun, goofy, and insanely personal.

Start Somewhere is a 76-page handbook about how to become a designer who writes. Most designers grapple with generating their own content. This zine is full of writing about *how* to write and more importantly, how to get started. Start Somewhere includes 14 hybrid design/writing exercises, a number of helpful tips, and is copiously illustrated.

Within, I write about exactly *why* designers have a hard time making their own content, design theory, design research, guilty pleasures, shoe fetishes, design curation, and a number of other topics. The writing is as if we were hanging out and having a coffee. And then having a beer later. It is not textbook-y or pedantic. I wrote it from the heart and you can purchase a copy here.

Surface Magazine interview


I was interviewed in the latest issue of Surface Magazine.

Slanted #27


I have a new essay in Slanted #27, the Portugal issue. The essay is called “Plux Qubaa: the Era of Neoliberal Design”. The essay is an examination of global labor structures through the lens of a dinner party.

The subhead for the essay reads, “Cannibals in the cloud, or understanding design today.”

An excerpt:

This is where we are: in a new era. I am giving it a name and staking the claim that we have entered into a new era of design history: the Era of Neoliberal Design. What Keedy calls “The Global Style” is just the skin, the ‘landlord paint’ of a world unloosed from obvious structures—both visual and economic. Design, particularly graphic design, looks the way it does now because the grab-bag of history is the ’52 pickup’ of technocratic plutocracy. Understanding graphic design today through the lens of political economy gives context and semantic space for subservient theories of post-postmodernism and metamodernism. Efficiency and flexibility in the market opens up a porousness that we can use to understand our desire to oscillate between the past and the present and the future.


This is the reality we have dwelled in since the death of grunge (a.k.a. postmodernism with the intellectualism neutered). A landscape of sans serif typefaces used in a centered axis composition overprinted with tetrahedral, futuristic ornament and browser-like images with varied dimensions and aspect ratios—and why so much design looks like the Internet printed out… and why so much design looks like different eras of the internet printed out. Locale and class bely the ‘appropriate’ aesthetic.

We cannot further deny an understanding of the synthesis of these varied aesthetics and their reason for being. We live in an age where a technology corporation has more cash than the leading economy of the world. With the opening of Cuba and the continued ascendance of Apple, an important concept has come home to roost (again)—late market capitalism is the only way forward in terms of global economies, a la Francis Fukuyama’s The End of Humanity. In a world bereft of options other than the rush to the bottom of market goods and services provided, we are forced to efficiency—it makes sense that the Internet of Things and the Design of Things look so similar. This sameness—it is the function of a market economy. It is the evidence of the pervasiveness of results/evidence-based policy, practice, design, and education.

You can pick up a copy of Slanted #27 here.

VCFA at TypeCon!

VCFA at TypeCon!

VCFA will be well-represented at TypeCon, North America’s premier type design and typography conference, to be held in Seattle from August 24 to 28!

Co-chair Dave Peacock and Chair Emeritus Silas Munro will be giving a presentation and Co-Chair Ian Lynam (a.k.a. ME!)  is on the board of judges for this year’s SOTA Typography Award. VCFA friends like John Downer, Subylle Hagmann, Alice Lee, and many others will be giving amazing presentations and showing new work.

Join us in Seattle!

O, Chicago! O, Vermont! Oh, Tokyo…

Ian Lynam in Chicago

I just got back from a whirlwind 4 days in Chicago. I gave a lecture about the work of Oz Cooper called “Heft, Gravy and Swing” for the Chicago Design Museum/ÄKTA, a lecture on how the Olympics fits into the history of Japanese graphic design for Chicago’s Society of Typographic Arts, and a lecture about marrying the divide between practice and theory for the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. All were great, and I made a ton of new friends, as well as seeing some old ones.

A giant round of thanks to my dear friend and patron Paul Gehl of the Newberry Library, VCFA alums and amazing friends Bill Kaminski and Margaret Gonzalez for making it down to hang out, the one-of-a-kind Julie Sittler, my girl Heather Snyder Quinn, Ryan Hageman of Gurafiku for introducing me at the Design Museum event and for being a total mensch, Bud Rodecker, Kiyomi Negi-Tran, Heather Anderson, Karley Schimpf, Tanner Woodford, Jacob Ristau, Renate Gokl, James Goggin and so many others for making it all happen. I am honored.


Prior to my Midwest adventures, we had our Spring residency at VCFA. It was amazing, as usual. Our Guest Designer/Critic was the esteemed Kenneth FitzGerald who gave a lecture titled “Singing the Surface” and a workshop called “Music for Metaphors”. Both were amazing.

Congratulations to our latest graduating class: Dick Schellens, Addison Landers, Carl Julien, Deb Kline, Erin Beckloff, Jason Alejandro, Laura Rossi Garcia, Lisa Williams and Ru Jurow.

It was amazing to welcome our massive incoming class: Beth Adams, Mike Berrell, Corey Brabham, Danny Cardenas, Colleen Clark, Le, Suzette Cozzens, Adam DelMarcelle, Luke Dorman, Sam Flora, Jeremey Forsberg, Jason Fowler, Gareth Fry, Katie Krcmarik, Edna Pedroza, Rosemary Rae, Heather Snyder Quinn, Anna Spool and Wendy Strasolla.

As usual, residency was transformative for all—a massive thanks to the students, faculty and staff at VCFA. And speaking of transformations, I am excited to be Co-Chairing the program for the upcoming year with my dear friend and colleague David Peacock.

Lithuanian Design Awards


I just finished up judging the Lithuanian Design Awards 2016, weighing in on Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Interior Design and Fashion. So much great work!!!

Lecture for STA Chicago


I will be giving a lecture for Chicago’s Society of Typographic Arts on Tuesday April 19th at 6:30pm.

22 West Washington Street
Chicago, IL 60602

More information here.


PAC.MN - Share multiple URLs easily is a project we worked on a few years ago which we’re still quite happy with. It’s an easy way to share multiple URLs in a graphic and non-intrusive way.

PAC.MN - Share multiple URLs easily

You can see here.

Areas of Interest workshop


Some of my writing will be the focus of this upcoming workshop that is a part of Singapore Design Week. More:

Space Academy


We just finished up the identity for Space Academy, an event space in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Identity for W. David Marx

Identity for W. David Marx, author of Ametora

We just completed the identity for Néojaponisme co-founder and Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style author W. David Marx. Two-color letterpress on toothy white cotton board.

Curating the 27th Brno Biennial

Brno Biennial 27 Study Room curated by Ian Lynam and Kiyonori Muroga of IDEA Magazine

Big exciting news: Kiyonori Muroga and I have been chosen to co-curate the 27th Brno Biennial’s Study Room, a gallery housing a collection of readings that form the academic component of one of the world’s most celebrated and longest-running design exhibitions.

For our theme and title for the Study Room, we have chosen, “Tabula Rasa: Worlds Connecting or Design Mannerism”. The essay that follows reflects our approach to the Study Room:

Tabula Rasa: Worlds Connecting or Design Mannerism

As a result of the victory of modernization, the word “design” is prevalent across the globe. You can talk about design, but only as long as one situates the conversation within the disciplines and established rubrics of modern design. However, the fundamental meaning of the word “design” and how it is interpreted is not so obvious and common. Interpretations, mindsets, and nuances vary from culture to culture and country to country.

While graphic design history in the 20th century has become rich and meaningful, the variations in perception of what “design” actually is have not been explored deeply. During the cold war period, publications and events like Brno Biennial worked as the gateway of potential cultural exchange, such as how design might be defined between cultures.

Due to rapid globalisation since the end of 20th century, graphic design has become both deeply rigorous, but at the same time, deeply homogenous. Modern graphic design (and its discourses) seems to be more and more distilled and filter out the culture and history outside of the established boundaries of design as cultural capital, cultural production, and centralised discourse.

It is ironic that the division between ‘locality’ and ‘globality’ has been so deep while technology and economy have increased the speed and ease of global communication.

However, there have been individuals and works whom have veered away from the established norms – the established track of Western modernist ideals, norms and forms. A global inability to procure localised bodies of knowledge – be they geographic or metaphysical – is of utmost interest to us in terms of curation of the Brno Study Room 2016 – to help expose publications either on the periphery or completely outside of Western ideas of graphic design discourse, dialectics, and comprehension.

We aim for the Brno Biennial Study Room 2016 to be a place of reconnecting what we perceive as ‘worlds’ – spheres of activity that are technocratic, cultural and ‘other’ in nature – reconciling the slippage between the ‘local’ and the ‘global’ in a heretofore unseen way that sidesteps Orientalization, imparts mystery, and promotes understanding. We are at a moment in time where what “design” is seems commonly accepted globally, yet in reality represents a multitude of attitudes and perspectives.

Reading room attendees are urged to think of the tabula rasa (the blank slate) in its most innate form – the wax slate which the Romans used for note-taking. Attempt to allow your mind to warm over your preconceptions of what design actually is prior to involving yourself in this exhibition. The Neoliberal era’s Big 5 (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft) have shorn citizens of the world of their autonomy in decision-making and ideology-forming, shifting individuals en masse from being users to being mere participants. Our hope is that individuals who encounter the Study Room do the opposite – that the findings within instead instill a sense of agency and re-evaluation, of mystery and greater meaning.

Upcoming public lecture at ICAS/Temple University Japan

I will be giving this lecture in Tokyo in March.

Tokyo Olympics Graphic Design by Ian Lynam

The Tokyo Olympics’ Visual Identity & Japanese Graphic Design

Date: Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Time: 7:30 p.m.- 9:00 p.m. (doors open at 7:00 p.m.)
Venue: Temple University Japan Campus, Mita Hall 5F
Ian Lynam, Chair and faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts in the MFA Graphic Design program and adjunct faculty at Temple University Japan Campus
Kyle Cleveland, Associate Director of ICAS
Admission: Free. Open to public
Language: English
* If you RSVP you are automatically registered. If possible, we ask you to RSVP but we always welcome participants even you do not RSVP.
* RSVPなしでも参加できますので、直接会場へお越しください。

There has been an international uproar over the public Tokyo Olympic logo competition. Many professional designers hate it because it devalues their labor. The public loves it because it democratizes design. Expanding on his visual essay “Why We Should Really Be Concerned About the Visual Identity for the Tokyo Olympics”, ( Ian Lynam looks to design history and cultural narrative to help explain a history of design and the Olympics in Japan.

Featured on Lifehacker Japan


I was just featured on Lifehacker Japan in a post about the Now Japan conference that I spoke at in Lithuania last year. Thanks, Rie!

That’s Entertainment!

That's Entertainment by Ian_Lynam

I just returned home after my lecture tour of the U.S. East Coast. The turnouts at VCFA, University of Hartford, Rutgers, Temple, and York College were great. Many thanks to the Dont Rhine, Luis Jacob, the VCFA Visual Art program, Matthew Monk, Jenn Renko, Jason Cheshire, Deb Kline, the Connecticut Art Directors Club, Jason Alejandro, Dermot McCormack, Troy Patterson and Mel Rodgers. What a swell bunch of folks for setting this all up! (Giant thanks to Evan Mast for letting me stink up his couch in NYC, as well.)

That's Entertainment by Ian_Lynam

My exhibition “That’s Entertainment!” had a great response in York, Pennsylvania at Marketview Arts. All exhibition photography by Troy Patterson.

That's Entertainment by Ian_Lynam That's Entertainment by Ian_Lynam That's Entertainment by Ian_Lynam That's Entertainment by Ian_Lynam That's Entertainment by Ian_Lynam That's Entertainment by Ian_Lynam That's Entertainment by Ian_Lynam That's Entertainment by Ian_Lynam That's Entertainment by Ian_Lynam That's Entertainment by Ian_Lynam That's Entertainment by Ian_Lynam

Identity for Matt Treyvaud

Matt Treyvaud identity

We recently finished up designing the visual identity for Matt Treyvaud, our compatriot over at Néojaponisme and one of the best writers and translators out there!



I just published a Japanese version of my essay on the Olympics logo design competition. You can read it here.

Sohei Nishino’s “Cities” project


We’ve been working with Ivan Vartanian and the team at Goliga over the past year on the website for the traveling exhibition “Cities” by Sohei Nishino. Having taken place in Amsterdam, London, Paris, and now Tokyo, the exhibition features giant collaged photographic works by Mr. Nishino which represent weeks of photographing each city, then collaging individual photos into one giant work.

We created an integrated panel viewer system and Stripe-based e-commerce checkout system so that website users can select ten separate panels from the exhibition and purchase them online.

Critique of the Tokyo Olympic Design Competition


I just wrote a pretty scathing critique of the 2020 Olympic logo competition. You can read it here.

VCFA posters


Dave Peacock and I made this series of six 2-color Risograph posters for the recent AIGA National Conference.


slanted #28


I have an essay in Slanted #28, which just came out. The theme for this issue is New York.


The cover is very shiny.


The table of contents.


My essay, titled “Escape from New York”.


And the end of my essay, still titled “Escape From New York”.

lecture at general assembly


Evidence of my lecture in Chi-Chi Bello‘s class at General Assembly this week.

the download


It’s been a crazy couple of weeks.


I attended the AIGA National Conference in New Orleans with my fellow VCFA faculty member Tasheka Arceneaux-Sutton and our VP of Enrollment David Markow. It was great to catch up with so many colleagues, heroes, heroines, and just good old friends.


Faculty member Dave Peacock and I designed a set of six Risograph-printed A3 mini-posters for the event which we gave away in droves, along with sketchbooks that I designed in collaboration with faculty member and former Co-Chair Silas Munro.

We had our October 2015 residency at VCFA where we hosted amazing guest designers/critics Ian Albinson of Art of the Title, CalArts’ Gail Swanlund and David Schatz and Sereina Rothenburger of the Swiss design studio Hammer, as well as the incredibly insightful writer and critic Tim Wynne-Jones.

It was a really terrific residency—stupefyingly good lectures, terrific community interaction, eye-opening critiques, and so much more. Six really amazing designers graduated, and I was honored to be asked to give their graduation address, which was a very intentionally strange speech that will make its way online at some point in some form.

I wound up speaking *a lot* at residency—I gave the convocation address which was in the form of a choose-your-own-adventure story where the faculty, staff and student body had to choose fight or flight when faced with reanimated Modernists, fake Postmodernists, and traveling the time/space continuum. This was combined with a bit of staged aggressive violence aimed my way by my dear friend and fellow faculty member Nikki Juen which freaked the shit out of everyone. It was, in short, fun and amazing. (I just published a transcription of the speech here.)


I also gave a lecture and workshop to our eleven incoming students about documentation, inducting them into the world of making design for yourself, not just for clients. The results were fabulous—our new students are the nicest folks and they came up with some really intriguing, seductive ways of capturing documentation of their first week at VCFA.


Ed, Chad, Mike, Todd, Amelia, Ashley, Paulina, Matt, Tim, Pierre, and Marisa, I am SO PUMPED to be working with you all! Thank you for being so generous with your time and for becoming part of our community!

So, after an insane trip home that had me traversing Burlington, Boston, and Los Angeles in order to get back to Tokyo, I got a day of rest, then…


I flew to Vilnius, Lithuania via Istanbul to give a presentation at the Made in Japan conference.

It was really, really great—I was so honored to be invited to speak and to meet so many amazing creative people from all over the globe. A giant round of thanks to the Made in Japan crew!

I’ve put together a highly visual transcription of my presentation here on Medium. It’s creeping close to 1,000 reads, which is pretty damn amazing.


We just launched a new identity and website for Arts Excursions Unlimited, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania public arts program spearheaded by my dear friend and collaborator Edith Abeyta.

About Arts Excursions Unlimited:

Arts Excursions Unlimited (AEU) was the result of a year long residency at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Hazelwood under the Office of Public Art’s Artist in the Public Realm program. Artist, Edith Abeyta worked with Hazelwood residents to develop a public art project. After one on one conversations, group discussions, numerous meetings, and at least 12 moon cycles an arts excursion program was born. AEU provides free monthly arts and cultural visits to various locations throughout the Pittsburgh region. We focus on family outings so our participants range in age from 2-82. Our aim is to foster communal arts experiences as well as personal growth and greater connections to the neighborhood, city, state, country, and world. We believe direct interactions with the arts makes for a better understanding of the self and the spaces we inhabit.


For their identity, we crafted a hybrid travel agency/space agency theme centered around the arts. I’m really happy with how it turned out—a hearty sprinkling of vintage NASA, multicultural representation, and inviting pop colors and typography.


YACHT has been continuing their barrage of interesting projects as of late, all using the two families of typefaces that we designed for them. Follow the amazing slew of projects that accompany the release of I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler here and see their new video here.


And for the near-final piece of news for now, Ben Barnett and I released our new band Fully Clothed’s debut LP via Bandcamp. 9 songs. Less than two minutes long in total.

And as always, I have been writing and making a ton of content for the VCFA blog, Perpetual Beta. Check out interviews with Johnny Linnert of PechaKucha, Polish designer Edgar Bak, and so much more!

Finally, I will be lecturing in Chi Chi Bello‘s class on General Assembly on Wednesday—very exciting!

work at utah moca

A number of publications I have both written and contributed to are on exhibit at Utah MOCA in their current exhibition, “Mall No. 2”.

new interview

I was interviewed for the great website Tokyo Graphic Designers recently. You can read me blathering on here. Photo above by Michael Holmes.

new typeface: perper bloeren!

We just released our new typeface family Perper Bloeren, available from Wordshape and YouWorkForThem!

Ten display fonts crammed into one! Decorative rules! A whole bunch of alternate characters! More!!!

through process

I was interviewed recently on the amazing Through Process graphic design podcast. We talk about anti-intellectualism and design, as well as issues with contemporary criticism and design education.

august news

We just updated Kimbo, our plug-in for Adobe Illustrator, so that it is compatible with CC2015. Versions for CS6, CC, and CC2014 are included. Check it out here!

I’ve been working with the band YACHT on a number of initiatives as of late, notably the design of two families of typefaces for their new album, “I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler”.

Here’s a look at the YACHT identity circa 2015. They’re using it all over the place

YACHT also has a ton of new wearables which you can check out here. They are accompanied by insanely funny copywriting, e.g.:

You’re no reactionary. You’re not claiming to have been promised some jetpack, and you’re completely grateful for the internet. But you do ask yourself why does every new shopping mall look like a Tuscan villa? Why would you want to Kickstart your cousin’s new rideable sustainable wearable?

• Non-hooded Sweat-Style Shirt
• Now Available In Heather’s Grey
• Long Sleeves To Hide Your Bad Tattoos
• Dark Black Type, Designed by YACHT & Ian Lynam
• Simplistic and Naive While Simultaneously Subversive
• Make a Statement While Staying So Cozy

We also designed this billboard promoting the album which is prominently displayed in Los Angeles currently.

Wait until you see the new record…

tacks, brass tacks.

It’s been a long, weird month. A lot has happened. Like, a lot a lot. Let’s get down to brass tacks:

My new book Parting It Out came out. And then Yuki and I packaged up 400+ of them and shipped them out to all of our amazing Kickstarter backers. Now we have 973 books sitting in our office (a chunk are sitting in Ultrasupernew currently) waiting for homes. I am not looking forward to the slog of distributing that many books, but like many things, it can be done.

The microsite for the book launched. You can procure a copy of the book there.
 It is also available from Wordshape.

Kit of Parts: 10 Years of Graphic Design by Ian Lynam

As of the end of March, I have resided and worked in Tokyo for a decade. This is big stuff. I have lived in Tokyo more than twice as long as any incorporated hamlet, town or city since becoming an adult. It’ll just be another 8 years and I’ll have left my hometown in the dust.

To celebrate, I have a ten-year retrospective up now at Ultrasupernew in Harajuku in Tokyo. I’ll be at the gallery to meet folks over the next month as time allows, though get in touch if you’d like to have me tell you about the work in the gallery.

We’ve shipped a ton of new projects. One big one was an identity project for Akasa, a Thai Healing Arts Studio run by longtime friend Gretchen Hogue. If you are in need of bodywork in the Pacific Northwest, you could do much, much, much worse!

We launched a new project for Adobe’s Typekit webfont service. After a number of years in development, Adobe has launched support for Chinese, Japanese and Korean webfonts with the most significantly reduced loading times ever—a world first! 

In the guise of a restaurant in his neighborhood of Hatagaya, Shibuya in Tokyo, I and ace developer/designer Thien Huynh have crafted a responsive site that takes advantage of Adobe’s new webfont offerings while also highlighting some fancy CSS trickery.

I participated in a few events for Adobe recently, notably the Behance Tokyo Portfolio Reviews and Adobe Creative Jam Tokyo 2015. For each, I demoed Adobe Shape CC, Adobe’s new mobile app that allows you to vectorize high-contrast images and export the vectors to CC apps. It’s a total timesaver for comping in Illustrator, and when paired with Kimbo, allows for total design craziness on the fly. 

I wrote the definitive long-form essay on the music packaging work of legendary Japanese graphic designer Yokoo Tadanori here.

I’ve been extremely busy keeping the VCFA MFA in Graphic Design blog Perpetual Beta populated with scintillating content―stuff like interviews with NORM, YACHT, Aaron Winters, Rick Poynor, Randy Nakamura and process-based content showing the work of our amazing students.

I also did a write-up of all of the guests that have visited the program during these first five years that we have been gestating. There’s a ton more to come!

Kimbo‘s about to be Illustrator CC2015-ready, as well! There have been a number of changes to Adobe’s plug-in/add-on infrastructure, none of which are worked out yet, so we’ve figured out a workaround that will work in perpetuity. Just finishing up the Windows version and documentation. Launching soon!

Our pals Kathleen and Christopher at Draw Down Books made this amazing retrospective poster for their recent VCFA workshop “Spontaneous Form, Gesture Made Visual” workshop with Draw Down Books at VCFA, 2015. Double-sided. Ships folded. Poster, 22.75 x 33 inches, offset. It costs 25 cents. 


huh interview series on VCFA blog

I started a new interview series over at Perpetual Beta, the VCFA blog. It’s called “Huh?” and so far, I’ve interviewed Thomas Knoll, the creator of Photoshop; Julia Kahl of Slanted; E*Rock; Lullatone; and Swiss graphic design studio Hammer. Interviews are forthcoming with Andy Cruz of House Industries, Randy Nakamura, Rick Poynor, Francisco Laranjo, Corey Holms, Through Process, Typecache, YACHT, Kate Bingaman-Burt, Norm, Shirana Shahbazi, Johnny Linnert of PechaKucha Night, Aaron Winters, Dave Peacock, Nikki Juen, Silas Munro, Lars Harmsen of 100 for 10, and a ton of other folks.

I also became the lone Chair of the VCFA MFA Program in Graphic Design back in April.


PSU Annex

I just had an overly long essay on time travel and graphic design education published in ANNEX, a new zine from the Portland State University Art and Design departments.

I also had another essay published in Slanted #25. This issue’s theme is “Paris”, and I wrote about my experiences there in a particular museum, and how it contrasted with my experience at two other museums.

Surprisingly, the title of the essay is “Three Museums”.

dead man

Barney Bubbles lecture by Ian Lynam

You can check out the recent lecture I did about the life and times of the late British graphic designer Barney Bubbles here.



Three of my older essays were just reprinted in IDEA DOCUMENT, a nearly 400 bilingual page compilation of the absolute best writing on typography and type design from IDEA over the past 20 years. Check it out or obtain a copy here.


CALARTS Ian Lynam Design

Our work was featured in the latest issue of CalArts magazine.

Kickstarter tips

Ian Lynam Parting It Out Kickstarter

It’s been a while since the last update — the Kickstarter campaign for my new book Parting It Out, a collection of essays about graphic design and culture, came off without a hitch and the book was successfully funded. The whole experience was pretty amazing, and I documented the entire campaign using Kickstarter’s Updates section of the project — you can read the greater narrative here. Within, there is a ton of writing, links to recent presentations, a free ‘zine of Japanese signage, and a whole lot more. (Hate that this website is still not responsive? Read it here on Medium.)

A number of people, notably professional and academic colleagues, have asked me to share my advice about running a successful Kickstarter project since my project was funded, so I have put together a short list of suggestions here for folks even considering undertaking a campaign. Some of it is practical, some of it is pragmatic, but hopefully all of it is helpful in one way or another.

1. Homework.
Read this: Know what you are getting into and how you might approach it. There is a ton of writing about crafting successful Kickstarter projects online, but none has had the grace, poetry, and applied thinking as Crig’s essay on the topic to date.

2. Kickstarter campaigns take a lot of time.
You’ll need at least 20 hours a week to work on your campaign. (I spent 50 hours per week.)
Why? Because there is all of the stuff that you will need to be doing in the background that makes for a successful campaign, notably:

A. Reach out.
Bugging every single person you know to share the campaign with their networks (which is the non-creepy way of asking people to indirectly back your campaign)…

B. Platforms.
…this means: Twitter messaging, Facebook messaging, direct emails, phone calls, physically intimating that friends might want to back your project, and calling good ol’ Mom and Dad.

C. Blasters set to “stun”.
Writing newsletters and using a service like MailChimp to deliver them—do one at the start of a campaign, one at the mid-point, and one a few days before the campaign ends—my campaign suffered because I didn’t do one final email newsletter. “しょうがない”, as they say in France, but I surreptitiously kick myself for it daily.

D. S-T-R-E-T-C-H.
Thing about stretch goals before you launch! I fucked up on this, and the stretch goals weren’t appealing to everyone. KNOW what you are offering people going in, and say it!

E. Use everything.
Collect every piece of possible PR you can get and deploy them, i.e.:

Ben is not a “famous” graphic designer (note: fame is extremely relative in graphic design), but I love his work, he’s a great guy, and I believe in him. Bonus: his Facebook post is honest and funny. Use every little thing you can get your hands on! (And be appreciative when folks help you out! Thank you, Ben!!!)

F. Make content early.
Before you launch your campaign, go absolutely crazy in terms of following as many people on Twitter as possible that are somehow vaguely related to your focus/campaign goal and delivering one piece of strong, original content daily that is completely unrelated to your upcoming campaign, then retweet at least one thing that you really think is smart/interesting/engaging daily. Be interesting! (Note: I only kind of did this, but it makes sense how it will help in terms of audience engagement. I was a super-slack Twitter user before, but I see the power of it now. Sounds so 90s, but it’s true! Do your due diligence prior!)

3. Editorial tone.
For everything, manage *how* you are saying what you are saying—use “I” when needed, but try and use “we” as much as possible—the collective “we”—what are people going to get out of backing your campaign? For example, look at all three of the 99% Invisible/Radiotopia campaigns—the voice that they used was a rallying cry and made their campaign super-successful!
The best written language is akin to spoken language—I just wrote the way that I write and it was all honest and came from the heart.

I also did what I tell all of my grad students to do—grab your phone and talk what you want to say into a mail or memo to yourself using iOS’ voice recognition/dictation feature. You’ll get to the end goal so much faster, and it will sound like you, not you typing.

4. Friendliness.
Check out Frank Chimero’s The Shape of Design Kickstarter to see how to do things right. I am of the opinion that each individual only really gets one chance to do a big Kickstarter before alienating their personal network (unless they figure out a really smart way of positioning a different project really well). Make your campaign as inviting as possible!


5. It takes a village.
Don’t rely on just that one person with an amazing social media presence who you are indirectly connected to to help out with social media—reach out to as many people as possible. I lucked out in that Ilovetypography shared the campaign and a whole bunch of folks I don’t know jumped on-board. Without that, and Adrian Shaughnessy’s plugs, and Stefan Bucher’s plugs, and the hundred-or-so type designers who shouted out the project, and everyone at VCFA‘s shares, I’d have been sunk.

6. Personalize your news
If a ton of folks back your campaign, it is very hard to thank each person individually via updates (though it’s natural to thank everyone individually via Kickstarter’s message center), so be sure to shout out individuals’ contributions when hitting benchmarks. I thanked most individuals who contributed to getting us to every new thousand dollar-mark after the initial flurry of activity that most campaigns experience. This just fed further activity in the campaign, helped support a sense of community, and got people individually invested in the campaign. The dude that got us to our $25K mark, the inestimable Erin Lynch, was an early backer of the project, but he felt personally invested in the campaign and upped his contribution to ensure we hit our goal.

Never underestimate the power of individuals. I said this in Update #12, but it’s a really valuable takeaway:

A community is a local economy.
Never underestimate the power of this.

6. Don’t sink. 
Kickstarter/Amazon are going to take 8% of your campaign money. Think about how much money you actually need for this project, then add a third of that at the very least. Printing for my book is going to cost around $15,000—$17,000, and frankly, I am not sure how much the poster printing and shipping is going to cost, but I made sure to pad the numbers so that everything will be covered safely (and by that, I mean that there is an extremely slight margin of error—I won’t be going to the Bahamas on other folks’ money).

The worst case scenario for me was if the product was only partially funded. I had enough available cash to cover it if I needed to, and my wife would have used her bank account to put the money in. Have a backup plan if your project is going to potentially be under-funded. Think about cost/risk and what you can do if things don’t go super-well. It seems shitty in terms of ‘gaming the system’, but a lot of people do it.

This all being said, I was fortunate enough that I didn’t have put any money into the Parting It Out Kickstarter campaign—I worked my tuckus off to get the word out (sweat equity!), and I am lucky enough to have a support network that funded the project. I am going to make this book as sick as possible in order to ensure that every single person who backed it feels like they got their money’s worth and that the rewards truly freel like rewards!

7. P.R.
A Kickstarter campaign is great for funding, but even better for PR—it really helps get a project a ton of PR. I approached it like that initially, and when it grew legs and started to seem truly viable (which was pretty much overnight), I switched my communications to being a bit more sales-oriented. At the absolute least, how can you effectively communicate and convey your project to as wide-ranging an audience as possible (without being annoying).

8. Be general.
My campaign suffered because it was for a specific book. If I’d pitched it as starting a new design publishing company, I’d probably have gotten ten times the funding that I did. Kickstarter as an entity gets behind projects that are more general in scope. A book of design criticism is so laser-focused that they threw me a bone by putting my project on the Design search results page for 2 weeks, but only because it was a project from Tokyo—probably not because of the actual content. How might you rewrite your project to appeal to a more wide audience?

9. Live live live.
Do as many presentations to as many different audiences as possible. I did 3 presentations at 3 very different events, and people jumped onboard because of it. There were significant spikes after each one—social media alone will do it, but by doing a presentation and making a video of it, you can use that as further PR/content for your Kickstarter campaign. I had a friend record one of my presentations and edit it, then I put it up on YouTube and Vimeo. (It got about 100 plays, which while not huge, really helped.)

10. Catch and release
Time-release content from your project, or curate ancillary content. Give them as thank you gifts. Throughout the campaign, I included excerpts from my book. This got people even more interested and invested.

I released Moji no Hakkutsu / 文字の発掘, a small, as-yet unpublished zine of photos of vernacular signage, lettering and street typography in Kyushu in the south of Japan, as a thank you gift to *everyone* who contributed to the campaign—backers and folks who shared the campaign alike. You are invited to download it here in one of two formats:

Moji No Hakkutsu by Ian Lynam / Screen
Ebook spreads version – perfect for tablet or desktop viewing – low resolution! 4.3mb PDF

Moji No Hakkutsu by Ian Lynam / Print
Print imposed version – you can print this out as a double-sided booklet, fold and staple! – print resolution! Zipped. 4.2mb PDF

There’s something that just feels good about showing thanks to the world for supporting your project—and that goodwill will come back tenfold. I’m more interested in thanking everyone, because I have more than a few friends who shared the project, but for a number of reasons couldn’t back it. I just appreciate everyone’s support.

11. Identity.
Give your campaign an identity. I very intentionally used one typeface, 3 colors, and made everything feel extremely branded. Set up a scheme of visual mnemonics to hang your campaign on. You’ll be happy you did, because people will remember it.

12. Leverage.
What famous people or at least infamous people can you get on board to help out in terms of PR? Having YACHT Tweet about my campaign helped so much, as did getting my pal Evan Mast from Ratatat to agree to let me use some of his unreleased music for the Kickstarter video.

13. Don’t rush.
I thought about this campaign for a year and a half before jumping in. If I were to do it again, I’d do a lot of stuff much, much differently. Consider every possible facet and come up with a total media plan.

14. See what other folks think!
The great thing about Kickstarter is that you can draft your campaign and share it with advisors before you launch. I tweaked mine to death over the course of a month(!) before launch with input from a half-dozen people who are excellent designers, marketers and writers. This is helpful from the perspective of launching a carefully-crafted campaign, as well as creating a handful of advocates who will immediately go to bat for you and who will continually share the project and back it over time, as they will see it as part of a collective project. (‘Sup, AQ!)

15. Family.
Get family onboard. Families want to see their members’ projects go well. The picture above is me, vaguely drunk, presenting at PechaKucha Night in Tokyo, pointing out the folks who have backed the project, but the folks inside the magenta circle are the most important ones: my amazing mom and dad. They gave what they could, as did my mother-in-law and father-in-law, my amazing nephew, my wonderful cousins, and a number of other family members. Nothing makes you feel better than knowing that people closest to you support you and your vision.

So, that’s pretty much it. The Updates in the Kickstarter campaign itself also have a ton of advice embedded, as well—in particular, the last one, which features some great advice from Craig Mod, my good friend and mentor for the journey. It was a long, strange month but I am really glad I partook in this Kickstarter campaign—I learned a ton, and most of it was wildly unexpected… which is how life should be.

On to other news…

I wrote an essay for Red Bull Music Academy about the life and times of the late graphic designer Barney Bubbles. You can read it here.


We launched Perpetual Beta, the new blog for the MFA Program in Graphic Design at VCFA, the program which I co-chair along with Silas Munro. We’ve spent the past few months putting this together, and I am stoked that it is out in the world! Check out the magic within—tons of graphic design essays, mind-blowing visual work, and interviews with faculty and critics associated with our university.

I have a new essay called “Weddings” published in Modes of Criticism 1, edited by Francisco Laranjo and featuring essays by Randy Nakamura, Cameron Tonkinwise, Kenneth FitzGerald, and others. The raison d’être for the book is best put by Francisco himself:
At a time when it is fundamental to be critical, the word has become ubiquitous, cool, vague and open for debate.

Upcoming: I will be giving a lecture and workshop for the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators’ Japan about typography and narrative in Omotesando on May 8, 2015. The lecture and workshop will be open to the public (¥1500 for non-SCBWI members), and it’ll be worth it! I’m going to be bringing a big box of vintage Letraset and we’ll be doing some manual typesetting fun together!


02.04.2015: Parting It Out

Howdy folks,As many of you may or may not know, I’ve been working on a book for the past couple of years―a pretty massive collection of essays about design and culture called Parting It Out. Well, I’m finally in the end zone, and I’m launching a Kickstarter project to help fund it.

You can see it here:
Parting It Out Kickstarter page

This book is probably the most important project I have done to date. As a project, it documents finding my voice as a writer, a design critic and a memoir writer (without the drama that usually involves). I think it’s a good balance of design theory and pop culture writing with just enough personality injected so that I can stake a claim to a very specific type of writing in the continuum of design literature. (And while I have done this via writing for magazines and blogs, said formats just don’t have a very long shelf life, whereas a book does.)

I am writing, of course, to ask you to potentially contribute to this project, but just as importantly, to ask you to help share of this project with your friends and communities, be that through social media, email, conversation, or what have you. The more people that learn about this project, the higher a chance of it of actually getting funded.

I try not to lean on my friends for favors too often, but this is what it is. I won’t be barraging you with newsletters or emails about this project, however I will be making the most of Twitter (@ilynam), Instagram ( and Facebook ( to document the journey. After the Kickstarter campaign ends, you will be able to continue to see progress here (though it directs to the Kickstarter page presently):

Thanks very much for taking the time to read this. If you have the time to check out the Kickstarter page, you’ll learn all about this book project in-depth. There’s a fun video there with an unreleased(!) soundtrack by Evan from Ratatat, links to content, and sample images from the book.

Your pal,


Typodarium 2015

I have some typefaces in the 2015 Typodarium type design calendar.

It’s obviously a little late for this.

Oh well.

KDa website

Klein Dytham architecture Tokyo

We just re-launched a responsive redesign of Klein Dytham architecture’s website.


Raker typeface family

We just released Raker, a new 40-member family of typefaces.


Raker typeface family

Raker was born out of a love for retro science fiction aesthetics as evidenced in films like The Clone Returns Home, Moon,and Alien, while simultaneously being a text typeface with a humanist influence and solid spacing.

Raker typeface family

The family includes 4 cuts: Raker, Raker Display, Raker Stencil, and Raker Display Stencil. Each cut includes 5 weights of Roman and italic characters—Light, Regular, Medium, Bold, and Heavy.

Raker typeface family

Each weight of each cut has been lovingly spaced and kerned, and all weights support Western, Eastern and Central European languages. Hidden pattern glyphs are included, as are standard ligatures.

Raker font family

All italics are true italics and extensive currency support is included. All weights of all cuts have been extensively hinted for the best performance on-screen.

Raker typeface family

Raker was designed to function as a fun, futuristic family of typefaces that will suit a wide variety of applications. And even better, it’s on sale at Wordshape until March 1st for $49 for all 40 weights!

John Mullin Photography

We just hit the button on a responsive website redesign for John Mullin, professional photographer and art educator. We’ve worked with John for years and were excited to relaunch his site with webfonts, some snazzy javascript, and a few CSS tricks. John is one of the United States’ great contemporary photographers, as well as the protegé and former assistant of Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Kozue Niseko

We also just launched a responsive website design for Kozue, a new luxury building project in Niseko, Hokkaido being managed by Nisade. The Kozue website features webfont implementation, some fancy javascript, adaptive CSS, and solid, sedate design. You can check it out here.

Néojaponisme 2014 roundup

We also just published our annual round-up of what’s been happening in Japanese popular culture over at Néojaponisme. 2014, we hardly knew ye!


Whole Foods x YWFT x Ian Lynam

When Whole Foods needed to brand their 2014 holiday “Values Matter” ad campaign with a personality-rich, hand drawn font, they chose the often-imitated-but-never-duplicated YWFT Hannah, YouWorkForThem’s own in-house champ.

In this case, their choice was specific to YWFT Hannah Narrow, which begged their question: could we design two additional weights for this individual font, which existed only in a regular weight? Their answer was “yes”.

Then, YWFT called us. We’ve had an amazing working relationship with YWFT for the past chunk of years—we speak the same languages: OpenType, Python, CSS, and just being stoked on type.

Whole Foods x YWFT x Ian Lynam

Working closely with the team at their advertising agency Partners & Spade, we designed and refined Semi-Bold and Bold weights of YWFT Hannah Narrow, and offered specialized technical support to the Whole Foods art and marketing departments at their request.

Plus, we added alternate characters galore and iterated the new Whole Foods typeface family into the ground.

It felt good. Really, really good.

Whole Foods Values Matter TV Commercial: Produce
Learn More –

Whole Foods Values Matter TV Commercial: Beef
Learn More –


Kimbo plug-in for Adobe Illustrator

In big news, we updated Kimbo, our plug-in for Illustrator so that it is compatible with Illustrator CC 2014. There’s a free demo on the site, and it’ll make any hardcore user of Illustrator breathe a sigh of sweet, sweet relief with its combination of vector cutting, mirroring, and pattern design tools.


Slanted 24 Istanbul

I have an story in issue #24 of Slanted, an issue devoted entirely to Istanbul, Turkey.

Slanted 24 Ian Lynam

Istanbul – the city on the Bosphorus – is famous for its countless minarets, magnificent palaces, colorful markets and traders, seagulls and stray cats. Istanbul is the only metropolis in the world that unites two continents. Traditional crafts collide with a young and blossoming art and design scene, which is slowly changing the face and image of the city.

Slanted takes a close-up look at contemporary design work and all the tumultuous developments in this cultural melting pot city balanced between the Orient and the Occident. On their one-week-trip the Slanted team met 15 design studios and produced comprehensive studio portraits which provide a vivid and up-to-the-minute picture of the scene. Thanks to Augmented Reality and the Junaio app, readers can easily watch embedded videos of the Istanbul turu on mobile devices.

The story I contributed is called “The Martyrdom of Ivram Islander” and is the tale of the future of a world where both humankind and graphic design education are in stasis—a form of suspended animation that pervades culture as much as is representative of it. The story is part graphic design criticism and part science fiction.

An excerpt:

Evrim Aslaner was listening to a collection of murky live recordings of a seminal, late-1980s hardcore band from the American Midwest via headphones on the crosstown train. Some songs were clearer than others, though the differentiation was marginal at best. It was obvious that none of the recordings utilized the mixing boards at the VFW Halls and crappy, tiny venues where they were recorded—perhaps just a handheld tape recorder, or on the more clear ones, a condenser mic, fed into a tape recorder precariously situated in the back of whatever club a fledgling promoter had happened to acquire for the night, 130 years ago and on the other side of the world.

The sound itself was a vaguely polyrhythmic, distorted dirge — all low-end rumble with the occasional Skexis-like feedback squeal overriding momentarily. The vocals—a muffled, staccato Chewbacca-esque cadenced war rant — were delivered unintelligibly, though with the mealy mouthed venom of so many young men of that bygone age that Evrim was currently fascinated with. The only clearly identifiable instrument was the reverberating crash cymbal, the rest was reduced to a two-minute-long semaphore-like aural wet fart of dissonance and rumble.

Evrim’s immersion in the dense music was sharply interrupted by a figure entering the hovertram at the Bestiktas Square stop. Anyone at all riding the hovertram was an anomaly these days. Same with the library. Ditto for the food vendroid stands. The last of the humans, still venturing out-of-doors, were trickling out. Good weather, civic events, “live” music, none of these drew more than a handful of malcontents anymore. That being said, Evrim was continually surprised that the city’s hovertram continued to run—one of the last remaining symbols of the final administration’s promise that auto-piloted public transport would run 24 hours a day for the rest of eternity, with no need for cleaning, maintenance or repairs. He was glad it hadn’t stopped; without it, he’d be forced to sullenly walk halfway across Istanbul to the library. 

This was the third time that Halil Ergün’s facsimile had gotten on the same train as Evrim. It was weird. When the previous administration had deployed its convoy of cyborg replications of movie stars, television personalities, and other historical figures of note, they were wildly popular with the then-ambulatory populace for a few months, but quickly fell from prominence. When members of the human public asked the replicas of the stars about their inner feelings, the cyborgs would quip something nonsensical or re-quote a well-known snippet of history. It became obvious that their personalities were merely cross-indexed databases of suggested behaviors, based on their media personas, not the original stars’ true personalities. It didn’t help that their “faces” were internally projected in a Tony Oursler-esque fashion within their ovoid heads much, either. Real people found that they had little to gain from the simulacra, most already being innately familiar with retro culture due to telechip implants. Otaku-like super-fans were able to stump the cyborgs by grilling them with intense amounts of trivia and barrages of detailed questions about covert activities of the stars’ lives that occurred during their original, wholly organic incarnations. 


Tokyo vs. Karlsruhe

I’m trying something new in my Computer Imaging 2 class at Temple University Japan—a collaboration with another school on another continent. We’re calling it “Ping Pong: Tokyo vs. Karlsruhe”. HfG Karlsruhe faculty member Sereina Rothenberger (of Hammer!) and I have come up with a potentially interesting way of getting our students to engage with typography and teaching—namely, by making project a project assignment for one another.

Here is the text we have supplied to our respective students:

You must make a project brief and supply it to the student/student(s) of the other university.
You get to make up the project.
The only parameters are:
– Your project must contain type & image
– Your project must relate to your immediate locale—where
you are currently geolocated.
– The project must be printed
– You must introduce yourselves to one another and present the project to one another in a designed format after reviewing
with the faculty in your institution.
Ian and Sereina will be doing their utmost to get the work published in a number of international graphic design publications, so the pressure is on, baby! Make it look delicious!

The soundtrack

– Hifana: Hanabeam
– Halcali: Endless Summer
– Nitro Microphone Underground:
Still Shinin’ All Day

– Kraftwerk: Trans Europa
– Rödelheim Hartreim Projekt:
Wenn es nicht hart ist
– Richard Wagner: Walkürenritt

Now, Sereina and I just have to cool our heels and wait for the results! (Not really—we’re proactive teachers—we’ll be coaching and cajoling and keeping the tissue box handy for the inevitable transPacific tears.)

In other news, the new modular anchor logo I designed for YACHT makes a new appearance on sunglesses here

…and here.

Iggy font

We just released Iggy, a set of two fonts (outline and fill) created in collaboration with Australia-based lifelong skateboarder, artist and animator Darin Bendall.

Darin Bendall and Ian Lynam font Iggy

Iggy is a set of fonts perfect for that punky, skatery vibe. Both fonts have 4 complete sets of stylistic alternates for letters and numbers, European language support galore, evoke the late 80s heyday of skateboarding and hardcore punk rock and thrash.


Just returned from a week in Vermont at Vermont College of Fine Arts where we had yet another amazing week of presentations, lectures, and critiques. Our visiting critics this time around were Chris Ro from Hongik University in Seoul, Yunim Kim from Kookmin Univesity in Seoul, and Eddie Opara, one of the partners in Pentagram’s New York office. Pictured above are our twelve new MFA graduates – check out their MFA exhibition here.

Hunger Mountain

We also clandestinely launched the redesigned responsive website for Hunger Mountain, VCFA’s literary journal designed in collaboration with Silas Munro.

In other news, Néojaponisme launched some new content.


Ride the Lightning Tokyo

I’ll be speaking next week at Ride the Lightning, AQ‘s design and development presentation series in Tokyo. Check it out on Facebook or join via Doorkeeper!


Los Logos 7 by DGV

We have some work in the latest edition of the Los Logos series, the best-selling graphic design books of all time, nominally Los Logos Number 7, available now from Die Gestalten Verlag.


We’re back from a fabulous vacation in Europe where we got to spend some time relaxing and brainstorming with friends across the continent, including folks from fabulous design studios like Norm, Tuba, Studio Uleshka, Hammer, Fontseek, great artists and curators like Shirana Shahbazi and Tirdad Zolghadr and the team at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich, our great pal Lars from Slanted, the team at MoreTrax, and lots of other folks. Many thanks to all of our hosts and friends new and old!

A few projects were released while we were gone, but the most notable is Somebody – an app created by Miranda July with our pal Thea Lorentzen and sponsored by Miu Miu, available in the iTunes store as a free download (iOS only).

We handled a bunch of the font production for the app, helping to extend Thea’s two great headline fonts to handle multi-lingual support, as well as providing the text typefaces used within the app itself.

When you send your friend a message through Somebody, it goes — not to your friend — but to the Somebody user nearest your friend. This person (probably a stranger) delivers the message verbally, acting as your stand-in. The app launched at the Venice Film Festival along with a short companion film, part of Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales series.

Since Somebody is brand new, early adapters are integral to its creation – the most high-tech part of the app is not in the phone, it’s in the users who dare to deliver a message to stranger. “I see this as far-reaching public art project, inciting performance and conversation about the value of inefficiency and risk,” says July.

Somebody works best with a critical mass of users in a given area; colleges, workplaces, parties and concerts can become Somebody hotspots simply by designating themselves as one (details on

Official Somebody hotspots so far include Los Angeles County Museum of Art (with a presentation by Ms. July on Sept. 11), The New Museum (presentation on Oct. 9), Yerba Buena Center for The Arts (San Francisco), Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and Museo Jumex (Mexico City.) Museum-goers are invited to send and deliver messages in these spaces where there are likely to be other users.

Half-app / half-human, Somebody twists our love of avatars and outsourcing —every relationship becomes a three-way. The antithesis of the utilitarian efficiency that tech promises, here, finally, is an app that makes us nervous, giddy, and alert to the people around us.

“When you can’t be there… Somebody can.”

Visit for movie, media kit and details.

Some other big news:

Join VCFA at Meet-Ups in Portland, Seattle and Brooklyn!

VCFA Graphic Design MFA faculty and staff are hitting the road in September and we’re hosting several gatherings for alumni, faculty, students and prospective students. These gatherings are a chance to get together with VCFAers to talk about your craft, share memories, have fun and meet new friends.

Please join us for one (or more!) of these informal meet-ups:

Portland, OR
Friday, September 12 at 6:00 pm
Deschutes Brewery
210 Nw 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97209
(503) 296-4906

In attendance:
Academic Dean and GD faculty member Matt Monk
Graphic Design Faculty Yoon Soo Lee
Director of Student Recruitment Ann Cardinal ’07 W

Register for the Portland Meet-Up

Seattle, WA
Monday, September 15th at 7:00 pm
The board room and faculty/staff lounge
7th Floor, Main Campus Building
Cornish College of the Arts
1000 Lenora St., Seattle WA 98121

In attendance:
Academic Dean and GD faculty member Matt Monk
Graphic Design Faculty Yoon Soo Lee
Graphic Design Faculty Natalia Ilyin
Director of Student Recruitment Ann Cardinal ’07 W

Register for the Seattle Meet-Up


Our office will be closed for the month of August, as we will be taking a much-needed vacation. The studio’s office will reopen on September 1st.


TaDa! Opening Celebration
Saturday, August 9, 2014
116 Pleasant Street, Easthampton, MA

25 conceptual graphic designers from Vermont College of Fine Arts’ graduate program visualize “TaDa!” as graphic design using varied media, sizes, dimensionality, and styles.

The Masters of Graphic Design program at Vermont College of Fine Arts is less concerned with what graphic design should be and instead has embraced the idea of what graphic design could be. The students, faculty and alumni of the program have made a practice of using graphic design processes to produce what, at first glance, may not look like graphic design product.

In this exhibition, graphic design communicates through a visual medium. Graphic designers work on the screen, in print, and multi-dimensionally, with light and sound and intangibles and make incursions into territory traditionally occupied by other arts. The media of the works in this show range from embroidered pillowcases, to video, to painted wooden shapes, to upcycled car parts, to trash. The designers’ intend variously to heal, to challenge, and to create social change as well as to explore traditional design barriers and create communicative form. Two of the designers in the show, Christine Valerio and Rachael Hatley, have received national recognition for their community design projects. Troy Patterson received a Design Ignites Change Awards Program. Others have been exhibited in art shows across the country and written for design publications. The work that VCFA designers do is expanding the reach of design practice.

TaDa! is unique in that these works are not graphic design as fine art, but graphic design as a vehicle of communication. In the tradition of the VCFA educational model, each designer has used vigorous training in design — typography and visual hierarchy and color theory and design history —to “conjoin the visual with language and intention.” (Sondra Graff)

Emily Claire Coats says of her own work, “See This | Not This is a work of graphic design as it incorporates a variety of graphic elements, designed together to elicit participation from others and communicate between them. Because the finished work will reflect a collaborative effort and place a focus on the process of creating the piece, it may fall under the category of conditional design (where the process is the goal). However, the finished piece, including the additions of participants, is designed to create a visual conversation that explores the nuances of revealing oneself to others.” TaDa! recontextualizes preconceived notions of graphic design by shifts in form, content and thinking.

Leslie Tane, VCFA GD 10.2013, is a curator, designer, educator, and writer living in Easthampton, Massachusetts. After more than 20 years of design practice she currently works as a contributing writer for Beautiful/Decay and in the Art Discovery Center of the George Vincent Walker Smith Museum in Springfield, MA. Her design project Curatorial 365 is scheduled to be exhibited at Hosmer Gallery in Northampton, MA in 2015.


I recently participated in the XD24 International Design lecture roundtable and workshop at Hongik University, initiated by faculty member and amazing host Chris Ro.

I did my usual song and dance – this time about socioeconomic foundations and graphic design foundations.

Included were discussions of Fordism and Modernism,

as well as a suggestion as to socioeconomic order in the startup 2.0 age,

and a definition of graphic design in the startup 2.0 age.

The lecture was half-dystopian / half-utopian, as I see how most people see this Post-PostModern age as being. The other speakers were my fellow VCFA faculty Yoon Soo Lee and Ziddi Msangi, as well as Apple type designer Min Bon. The roundtable was moderated by Jiwon Lee, one of my favorite, favorite human beings.

Kwong Nayoung and Kkong Mira (above) provided amazing translation into English AND Japanese. Jungwook Kim provided general assistance.

The lecture was preceded by a workshop about oppositionality as a base methodology for constant engagement (and thus actual creativity and innovation) in graphic design.

Students were asked to create a visual kit-of-parts that was comprised of 25 formal elements (color, pattern, form, image, texture, type, and lettering) based on three speculative potential future vocations unreliant on the laws of physics.

They made weird stuff.

And they made interesting stuff.

But most of all, they made a lot of stuff, and they (including faculty member Chris Ro) stuck around for an extra six hours to ensure that everyone got a full critique. (Bonus: Chris and I bought pizza and beer for everyone.)

And then they mimicked the supernatural beings in Michael Jackson’s Thriller, with Chris being the Gloved One. It was, in short, awesome.



CalArts Magazine

I just got a nice writeup in the new issue of CalArts Magazine in a feature about Graphic Design Department alumni. It was good to be featured alongside some of my favorite compañeros and compañeras like Mark Kulakoff, Caroline Oh, Jon Sueda, Geoff McFetridge, Brian Roettinger, Hillary Greenbaum, and Andrea Tinnes. The issue’s design by Cassandra Chae and Jin Son is amazing, as well!


Kimbo plug-in for Adobe Illustrator

We just released a new/old piece of software today. It is called Kimbo. It is a plug-in for Adobe Illustrator CS6 and CC. You should check it out here.

Kimbo does magical, magical things with vectors – both in creating new shapes not natively in Illustrator and for assembling vector objects based on symmetry, abstraction and ornament.

Kimbo plug-in polar mesh effect

Kimbo is super versatile – check out the user manual to see how extensive it really is.


Print Magazine - VCFA

PRINT magazine’s August issue just named VCFA, the department in which I teach and co-chair as one of the top MFA Graphic Design programs in the U.S.


Kind of Like Spitting Tour CD

We just finished up designing a tour-only CD of oddball tracks and rarities for Kind of Like Spitting called “Professional Results”, which include a number of tracks from when Ben Gibbard of Deathcab for Cutie was in the band. Catch them on tour this summer!


I’m going to be giving a presentation about typography and type design tools called “Talking Type” at UXTalk in Tokyo on June 25th at 7pm at the Gengo offices. Details should be announced here shortly.


We just added in a bunch of new projects that we’ve completed over the past year.


JanTschichold Wordshape

We just picked up an amazing book that we are carrying over at Wordshape—the very best book on the work of Jan Tschichold to date!

JanTschichold Wordshape

The most comprehensive showing to date of the work of typography master Jan Tschichold—the father of New Typography. Published on the occasion of the retrospective exhibition of Tschichold’s work at Ginza Graphic Gallery in 2013, this beautifully designed and printed book covers an immense amount of his output. Included are type designs, book covers from all stages of his career, poster designs, interior typographic layouts, and hundreds of rare Tschichold works—all photographed beautifully.

JanTschichold Wordshape

The book also contains a new essay on the work of Tschichold by his biographer Christopher Burke, as well as an excellent essay on Tschichold’s interest and focus on Japan and Japanese aesthetics by Taro Yamamoto.

This title is highly recommended and is one of the most beautiful books we have ever carried, both in terms of content and design. 148 pages, beautifully written, photographed, designed and printed. You can, and you should, pick it up here.


I’m going to be doing a set of lectures and workshops in Seoul at Hongik University alongside my VCFA compadres Ziddi Msangi and Yoon Soo Lee, as well as with Apple designer Min Bon and Hongik faculty Chris Ro next month. Some amazing posters for the event: this one by Chae Jeongun.

This one by Seungtae Kim.

This poster by Daekeon Kim.

This one by Hong Aerin.

…and finally this one by Jaekook Han. Really awesome set of posters!


Jon Chandler

While in Korea recently, I was asked who my favorite comic artist was after explaining to a bunch of grad students why they should really read Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, even after it was assigned to them and they still hadn’t read it.

My answer: Jonathan Chandler.


CalArts X Kookmin University Workshop

Just returned to Tokyo, having finished up a week-long slice of the two-week CalArts X Kookmin University Graphic Design workshop.

CalArts X Kookmin

The workshop had MFA and BFA students of CalArts and Kookmin conduct joint research on Seoul as a focus via a series of cultural studies. The main area of inquiry was the crucial role of one’s cultural background for understanding/expressing verbal and visual languages.

CalArts X Kookmin University Workshop

Other aspects of the workshop schedule included lectures by me and CalArts faculty Michael Worthington, a film screening by CalArts alumnus and Kookmin faculty Kelvin Park, and a hybrid exhibition/pop-up studio by the CalArts students at Common Center called We Love to Design in the Sun.

Ian Lynam lecture

I gave a lecture entitled The Graphic Designers/Type Designers/Design Teachers That Graphic Design History Forgot about the work of Bavarian designers Eugen Nerdinger and Lisa Beck.

Giant thanks to Jiwon Lee, Jae Hyouk-Sung and Michael Worthington for inviting me to participate.




I have a new essay published in the book Creators’ Bookmarks 2 published by G Colon in Korea.

The essay is about desks, most notably the desks where I work.

An excerpt:

“I used to hack out ‘zines from a desk under my loft bed in Oakland, California. I had a really nice, expansive work area in an apartment in Portland, Oregon the first time I lived alone. I had another one in Shibuya a few years ago. I’ve had a lot of shitty desks between the two—dank ones in Los Angeles and Portland; cold, unfeeling ones in New York; bright and airy desks in Berkeley and Los Angeles. It’s a never-ending parade of places where I’ve worked.

But the ones where I’ve done my best work are the ones that were not desks at all—a lawn chair on a veranda and a family restaurant table, both in Tokyo, accompanied by sunshine and by really bad pizza (and never-ending refills). To fetishize the physical environs of the graphic design studio is to do it a disservice—most designers I know do not own their own homes. Their work areas are temporary—either at employers’ offices or in rented or leased properties. These are not the liminal spaces of dreams—they are the raw concrete of limited means. 

It’s an affront when we see the neat and tidy white-painted concrete box offices that are flouted in Graphic Design documentaries like Helvetica and in books like Unit Editions’ Studio Culture. The lone office semi-worth working in that I have spied via widely-disseminated media to date is Geoff McFetridge’s studio in the film Beautiful Losers. Why? Because it was a mess. It speaks of the nature of humanity and not trying to fit into the mold of wannabe-architects’ tidy Modulor boxes. That’s where I live and where I want to live.”



I spent the day in Los Angeles on May 16 at a study day at LACMA weighing in on how the museum might approach curating a collection of graphic design alongside graphic design luminaries Lorraine Wild (LACMA), Victor Margolin (University of Illinois / Design Issues), Andrew Blauvelt (Walker Art Center), Paola Antonelli (New York MoMA), Benjamin Weiss (Boston Museum of Fine Art), Marina Garone Gravier (National Hemerotec of Mexico), and many of the best design curators, critics, and historians working today.

I presented this timeline of Japanese Graphic Design History in my efforts to show how a Japanese Graphic Design collection might be given form through both the inclusion of Japanese graphic design periodicals, as well as providing touchstones for being comprehensive in assessing the canon of Japanese Graphic Design.

The timeline is very much a work-in-progress, but it’s helpful in helping to provide a rudimentary narrative of the history of Graphic Design in Japan.

Many thanks to Wendy Kaplan, Staci Steinberger, Britt Salvesen, Claudine Dixon, Minyoung Park, Lorraine Wild, and everyone at LACMA, as well as Anne Coco at the Margaret Herrick Library for organizing such a terrific event!

Photo by Victor Margolin


We had an excellent final class at Meme Design School this past weekend—tons of great work and excellent critiques by teachers Akiyama Shin, Shirai Yoshihisa, and Meme founder Nakagaki Nobuo.



I have an essay called “The Empire of Grey” in issue #23 of Slanted. This issue is all about Swiss typography. An excerpt:

In the introduction to the classic book Empire of Signs by Roland Barthes, the author summons forth a fictive landscape of signs and symbols without tangible connection to meaning within. It is a country where sign and meaning are divorced. A place whose language consists of intimation and suggestion, but never direct articulation—it is layers of overlaid shifting gauze of semiotic mystery and displacement in the stead of the absolute. He then goes on to name the place “Japan”. Within the book, he is both talking about the nation state of Japan and about the “Japan” that exists in his mind (as well as, in particular in the introduction to the book, an imagined, fictive other place which just happens to be saddled with the moniker “Japan”).

It’s both the second and third versions of “Japan” in this book that interest me, especially in the context of this essay—a place that as a global community, we retain a series of impressions of, stereotypes toward, and collective ideas about, even if we have never visited that place.While Japan may be exceedingly important to people studying semiotics and young people across a strata of interests across the world seeking their “otaku moment”, there is another simultaneously fictional and very, very real place that is firmly rooted in the minds of graphic designers… I name this place “Switzerland”.


Jennifer Renko, our amazing Program Director at VCFA will be in Boston next week for the HOW Conference. Be sure to swing through and say “‘hello” if you will be attending!


I contributed an essay to the new book 20th Century Editorial Odyssey compiled by Yuichi Akata and Barbora, collecting their writings on the development of the 20th Century subculture-focused independent press which was just published by Seibundo Shinkosha. The book is an amazing guided tour through some of the most engaging publications of the past 100 years including The Whole Earth Catalog, The Picture Newspaper, Now, Heaven, Zoo, and many, many more. From hippie magalogs to punk zines to high fashion glossies to doujinshi, the book charts a unique course through active readership and its affect on culture.

My essay focuses on Wet, the “Magazine of Gourmet Bathing”, published and steered by Leonard Koren in the 1970s and 1980s. It was previously published in Idea #352.


Ian Lynam Meme Design School

I did a lecture at Meme Design School yesterday on American Graphic Design History.

Road Trip lecture

The lecture was called “Road Trip” and was about social, economic, and graphic mobility in America, all framed by the windshield – America’s equivalent of the grid. Over the course of an hour-plus, I went over the tenets of American graphic design from the pre-Modern period to the Modern period to the PostModern period.

graphic design defined

First, we got down to brass tacks as to what this thing called “Graphic Design” really is, or at least how I define it.

While the historical aspect was great and introduced students to a number of designers they might have been previously unfamiliar with, perhaps the most important part of the lecture was helping to define the concepts of Modernism and PostModernism from an American perspective, heavily informed by R. Roger Remington’s book American Modernism. These ideas are things that many undergraduate and post-graduate graphic design students stumble over.

Modernism defined, Part 1: Process Values 


– to reject traditional forms and decorative elements
– 伝統的な形式と装飾の要素を拒絶する

– to seek a solution that was simple and direct
– 簡潔で単刀直入な解決法を探す

– to be concerned with the process by which the designer worked
– デザイナーが使ったプロセスの成り行きを意識する

– to use systematic methods rather than intuitive ones
– 直感よりも、秩序と体系に基づいた方法を使う

– to use rational, objective approaches to the solving of a graphic problem
– グラフィックデザインの問題を解決する際、合理的で客観的なアプローチを使う

– to think about relationships in form and content
– 形式と内容の関係について考える

Modernism defined, part 2: Formal visual values 


– to use geometric shapes: the circle, the triangle and the square
– 幾何学的な形を使う:円、正三角形、正四角形

Interestingly, one of the facts rarely mentioned in the mythos of the Bauhaus was how notoriously sexist the school was—women were denied instruction in architecture, graphic design and product design and were instead relegated to the field of textile design. (In essence, the message from the Bauhaus to its female students was, “Nice tits, now go weave”.)


Modernism defined, part 3: Typography 


– to use sans serif typefaces
– サンセリフ体を使う

– to show contrast in typographical material
– タイポグラフィ間のコントラストをつける

– to base work on pragmatic issues printing, paper sizes, photo engraving, standardization
– プリント技術、紙のサイズ、写真製版、標準化などの実用性を念頭において作業する

Modernism defined, part 4: Imagery


– The use of photographs and photomontage rather than drawings or illustrations
– スケッチやイラストよりも写真やモンタージュを使う

– The use of silhouetted photographs with white backgrounds
– 白い背景のシルエット写真を使う

– The use of maps and diagrams
– 案内図と略図を使う

– The use of graphic symbols and icons
– 図記号とアイコンを使う

Modernism defined, part 5: Organization


– the use of asymmetric page layout
– 非対称のページレイアウトを使う

– The use of a grid or clearly delineated page-organizing method
– 方眼紙やしっかりと線引きされたページでまとめる

– to apply a planned visual hierarchy in the manner in which the graphic elements were integrated
– グラフィック要素を総括した方法をもとに考えられたビジュアル階層を適用する

– to know and apply perceptual laws (I.e. Keeping elements grouped)
– 知覚の法則を知り、適用する(要素をグループ分けする)

– to apply continuity in page flow
– ページフローの継続性を適用する

This was all backed-up by looking at a survey of American Modern designers like Cipe Pineles and Louis Danziger (their work pictured above), and ran the gamut from Paul Rand to Alvin Lustig to William Golden to Saul Bass, including a large selection of work by European immigrants’ work, including Will Burtin, Alexey Brodovitch, Dr. M.F. Agha, and innumerable others.

We also got into Lorraine Wild’s concepts about graphic design in the 1950s being split into two fairly discernible camps: consumer modern, graphic design which aggressively targeted the general public; and high modern, which was the business of selling design itself to corporations and potential clients.

rob roy kelly

We went over developments in graphic design in the 1960s and 1970s, as well, including the work of Aaron Burns, Pushpin Studios, Rob Roy Kelly, and the psychedelic poster movement in San Francisco, including each of these practitioners’ contextual relevance and impact in terms of graphic design in Japan.

This was followed by an explanation of the development of PostModern graphic design, starting with the introduction of the term in the 1977 exhibition, “postmodern typography: recent American developments” organized by Bill Bonnell.

PostModernism defined, part one: Principles


– complexity

– contradiction

– dystopian / non-utopian / deals with the world on its own terms

– appropriation

PostModernism defined, part two: Principles


 – juxtaposition / fractured meaning

– recontextualization

– layering

– interaction of text and image

– hybridity

These ideas were supplemented by a survey of American PostModernist work – from Dan Friedman to Ed Fella, and April Greiman to Lorraine Wild.

From there, I explained the devolution of the inquiries of semiotics and experimentation as a basis of studio practice as instigated at the Cranbrook Academy of Art into the dumbed-down “grunge” aesthetic as exemplified by the work of David Carson, through American graphic designers’ interest into systems-based design, and into the contemporary moment in American graphic design.

The past 13 years have been characterized by a mix of previous graphic styles. Most American graphic design can be summarized as “a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n roll”. Expressive formal experimentation is often accompanied by retro typographic treatments, and occasionally underpinned by a modern grid.

I summed up the state of graphic design in the U.S. of A. in this final statement:

“It seems that the time for dogma graphic design is over in America—there is just a stretch of infinite highway out in front of us, and simultaneously everywhere and nowhere to go at once, all framed by the windshield.”

Ian Lynam Meme Design School

Afterward, the students participated in a workshop I called “Looking Through the Windshield” about the analysis of spatial hierarchy, and how we can translate that hierarchy from a photograph to a typographic composition.

Ian Lynam Meme Design School

Loosely based on Jeffery Keedy of CalArts’ first two steps of his “1-10 Project”, the students used a numeric hierarchy to evaluate provided imagery and then use Letraset dry transfer lettering, Formatt adhesive lettering, and lettering stencils to create poetic typographic interpretations of their hierarchy.

Ian Lynam Meme Design School

All-in-all, it was a really rewarding day followed up by a lengthy chat with many of the students over coffee at a nearby café – the whole experience was the perfect introduction to teaching at Meme – a good mix of ideas and hands-on synthesis of what was discussed in class.


VCFA co-chair

We just finished up our latest MFA in Graphic Design residency at VCFA – loads of amazing work from returning students, insanely talented new students, and a motivated and hungry class that graduated. The residency included a bit of a surprise, as well – in July, I will be starting as Co-Chair of the program with my good friend N. Silas Munro. Stay posted for more exciting news from VCFA!!


Poster Collection 26: Japan – Nippon, a book I spent a significant amount of time working on as a co-editor just came out.

Published by Lars Müller, it’s a 112-page book with tons of images of Japanese posters from the early Modern period through today.

We also recently redesigned the identity for Kokusai Soushoku, one of Tokyo’s most successful interior design and production companies. It was a giant honor to be asked, given that the original mark was designed by the grandfather of the owner Junichiro Kawanishi in 1931. From Isetan to Mitsukoshi to Louis Vuitton to Tod’s, Kokusai’s handiwork is everywhere, virtually holding up the luxury sector in Tokyo.


I’ve been re-posting a number of older essays that are and aren’t going to be in my upcoming book over at DMIJ as of late. Check them out here, here, and here. Next up: a new essay in the new issue of Slanted, a workshop in Korea, and a bunch more for-now-clandestine projects…


CalArts 2014 T-Shirt Show

Last night after a grueling day and night of making user interface designs, I snuck this tee shirt design in for CalArts’ Graphic Design Department’s 2014 T-Shirt Show.

CalArts 2014 T-Shirt Show

The annual show, in the words of alumna Thea Lorentzen from a recent issue of IDEA:

As far as traditions go, the CalArts T-shirt show is a relatively new phenomenon. The first event was held just ten years ago. Today, current students and faculty as well as alumni contribute designs that are then screen printed onto t-shirts and sold to the rest of the school, as well as visitors. The frenzy begins during t-shirt printing. For one long day, the lab fills up with design students, all with inked hands and dirty rags, ready to fold and print over 60 patterns and as many as 400 shirts. The t-shirt show and sale take place on a Thursday night during the CalArts gallery openings. Hordes of students that would normally be wandering freely through the halls actually line up to buy t-shirts and tote bags. The line can extend out from the cafeteria and back into the galleries. The t-shirt designs themselves might be simple or intricate, disgusting or humorous. Sometimes they make fun of how little sleep students get. Sometimes they announce how much we love Walt Disney. Ed Fella’s designs always sell out first. But all designs proudly bear the name of the school, and in doing so, remind us of why everyone is excited enough to wait in line.


CalArts 2014 T-Shirt Show

Over 30 years ago, before he was a teacher at CalArts, Ed Fella lived in Detroit. The local arts organization made some bumper stickers that said “Ya gotta have art.” Ever the contrarian, Ed made his own bumper stickers which read, “Art is an ethnocentric cultural construct that you don’t gotta have.”

This shirt design is a Japanese localization with as much nuance applied to the meaning as possible which reads, “美術は自文化中心主義的な社会構造であり、なくてもいいものである”. The linguistic and orthographic disconnect seemed somehow appropriate, but that’s also what happens when you design something at 5am.


I have started re-releasing a handful of older essays on Ben Thomas’ new website Design Made in Japan. The first one is up now – an essay on Japanese Modernism.



Spectra, a book featuring the work of the CalArts GD classes of 2013, is out now. What follows is text culled from the official press release:

Released in January 2014, Spectra, a slim, fluorescent volume, is the first comprehensive collection of student work from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) Graphic Design Program in over a decade. Spectra showcases the work of CalArts’ Graphic Design class of 2013. Representing a range of values along more than one continuum—from print to electronic media, personal work to collaborative efforts—the work displays a fluidity between concept-driven and formal solutions.

Spectra’s co-editor Benjamin Woodlock comments on the concept behind the publication. “Whereas a single spectrum describes a smooth path with infinite values in between, the geometry of many is flecked with intersections that are distinct points of reference. Spectra examines these nodes, suggesting threads that run through individual bodies of work as well as well as the work of the Graphic Design Program as a whole.” Adds co-editor Sarah Faith Gottesdiener, “We wanted to give the world a look into our program as a whole, as well as document work produced under the tutelage of noted faculty member, Ed Fella, who retired from teaching this year.”

The publication features a one part honest, one part depressing, one part inspirational introduction essay from noted Graphic Design Program alumnus Ian Lynam, who currently lives and works in Tokyo. Current faculty Lorraine Wild and Gail Swanlund also contributed essays.

Spectra uses typefaces by CalArts alumnae Jens Gehlhaar and Andrea Tinnes. The book was designed and edited by recent MFA grads Sarah Faith Gottesdiener and Benjamin Woodlock.

The book will be for sale at the LA Book Fair, January 31st to February 2nd at the Leisure Labor Table (run by CalArts Graphic Design alums Laura Bernstein, Scott Massey, and Masato Nakada).

Limited edition copies can be purchased for $15 + shipping starting in February by contacting



DC/LA hardcore enthusiast and graphic designer Alex Pines will be lecturing in my Graphic Design 2 class at Temple University Japan on February 6th at noon. You are invited!


A couple of interlinked Graphic Design II and III projects from the upcoming semester at Temple University Japan:


Reading: In Defense of the Poor Image by Hito Steyerl
Reading: DDDDoomed by R. Gerald Nelson

The proliferation of Pinterest has shown that the aggregation of others’ imagery is a striking component of contemporary culture. Simultaneously, contemporary Graphic Design has taken on aggressively reductive, repetitive tendencies.

Collect 20 images from the internet, treat in Photoshop using halftones and linescreens, give your collection a title, then design an image-driven A5 booklet using solely the stylistic tropes from

Print your booklet with a 4-color cover and 1-color interiors.


Reading: The Global Style by Mr. Keedy

Write 500 critical words on the reading in prose form expressing your opinions, then using the raw material from your Karma Chameleon booklet, design an expressive image-driven A5 booklet in your own style. Print your booklet with a 4-color cover and 1-color interiors.


We wrote up our best of 2013 bits over at Néojaponisme a few days ago. See them here.

Also, Typodarium 2014 was just released – Slanted’s font-a-day tear-off calendar. Ed Benguiat, Luc(as) de Groot, Veronika Burian and I served as this year’s panel of judges, selecting our favorite fonts of the year for inclusion.

You can pick it up here.


I wrote up a “Best of” Japanese typography for 2013 for PingMag a few weeks ago – you can see it here.


I will be joining the MeMe Design School in Tokyo as an instructor for 2014.

On Saturday, January 18, there will be one-night exhibition of a collaborative 4-poster set by graphic designers Ian Lynam and Ed Fella in Tokyo at 35minutesmen in Arai Yakushi.

Printed in an edition of 100 each, the set of posters will be given away to the first 100 visitors to the exhibition.

Posters and flyers by Fella and Lynam from the 1990s through today will be on exhibit.

Kamitakada 5-47-8, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
(Arai Yakushi Station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line)
Saturday January 18, 2014
6pm – 9pm

More details on the Facebook Event page.


Slanted’s 22nd issue is out now.

The theme of the issue is “Art Type” – exploring typography at the edge of art, or art at the edge of typography.

I wrote an essay about Jiwon Lee, an amazing Korean graphic/type designer, design writer, design critic and design educator working in Seoul.

Also in this issue is the first piece of writing in a while from CalArts faculty, type designer, and essayist Mr. Keedy. I am really excited to read what he has written for this issue of Slanted.

Graphic designer and CalArts faculty Michael Worthington is interviewed within.

As is CalArts retired faculty and exit-level designer Ed Fella.

I am excited about this issue as it highlights the work and writing of some of my immediate influences from graduate school and professional practice. Lee, Keedy, Worthington, and Fella have all contributed greatly to how I work, how I think about work, how I write, and how I practice. It’s excellent to be in such great company.


Japanese Modernism exhibition by Ian Lynam

While at VCFA in October, I curated a micro-exhibition of books and printed ephemera that charted the development of Japanese Modernist Graphic Design called Japanese Modernism Unearthed that accompanied my lecture The Winners and Losers of History: The Emergence of Graphic Design in Japan.

This tabletop exhibition was a project in providing a tactile analogue to a lecture, allowing students to handle the materials (without gloves!) and to make observations about the material discussed outside of how it was editorially framed in the lecture.

The media included:

Elementary English Course
W.E.L. Sweet
This 1910 book was printed by Japan’s first type foundry, and is an example of the high quality of typography provided by the Tsukiji Type Foundry, the brainchild of Shōzō Motoki. Shōzō developed Japan’s first sustainable system of moveable type technology for printing (and Japan’s first typography school) in 1869, with the assistance of the Irish American missionary William Gamble in Nagasaki.

Matsumoto Takashi
A geometry text book with a stunning two-color title page circa 1926. This book is proof that Japanese graphic designers and typographers had a thorough early understanding of Classical title page composition and localized the form with exceeding results.

高等小學 毛筆畫手本 男生用 第三學年 / Koutou Shougaku Mouhitsuga Tehon Dansei You Dai san Gakunen
文部省 (Ministry of Education)
A lovely annotated manual of illustration which shows the rigor expected of budding illustrators in 1905. Some images are traced and others are broken into perspective grids by the previous owner, most likely a boy aged 10 to 14.

寳塚 少女歌劇脚本集 / Takarazuka Revue Playbook
宝塚歌劇団 (Takarazuka Revue)
A look at the “Moga” / Modern Girl aesthetic from a 1932 magazine for the famous Takurazaka Revue and Theater School in Hyōgo Prefecture, noted for it’s all-female casts women of that time. The Playbook features unique lettering throughout, images of women and women’s fashion from that era of feminization in Japan, and a beautiful, if off-kilter cover illustration.

テァトロ / La Teatro
An immediate post-World War II theater magazine published in Tokyo that shows the vertical orthographic form that Japanese typesetting took in 1948. Wonderful cover lettering that shows the post-War turn toward showcard-influenced lettering.

現代商業美術全集 / The Complete Commercial Artist
Sugiura Hisui, editor
Published from 1927 to 1930, this was one of Japan’s most important graphic design publication at that time, providing commercial art and design in all its forms from both Japan and the world. Foreign and domestic application of design trends and theories were catalogued within. One cannot fathom how important this journal was to Japanese graphic designers, as it brought the world to their local bookshop.

中學圖畫 / Art Text for Middle School
美育振興會 (Government Publishing House)
Chugaku Zuga is a fine art textbook from 1931. It is notable for its last page, introducing lettering and commercial art to students via lavish bilingual lettering.

三河國 國寶社噐械製絲
Mikawa Silk Manufacturing
A label for a package of raw silk from approximately 1890. The silk was manufactured in Mikawa no Kuni (Mikawa Province)—a now-defunct area that comprises the eastern half of Aichi prefecture.

伊呂波引紋帳大全 / Irohahikimonchoudaizen
Wada Shōzō
1885 manual of “kamon” / 家紋, traditional family crests, acceptable ornament, and usual application to Japanese clothing of that time.

洋酒まめ天国 / A piece of liquor heaven
Yanagihara Ryohei, editor, designer
Suntory’s house ‘style guide’ for the swinging gentleman of the mid-to-late 1950s and 1960s. Yoshu Mame Tengoku featured sexploitative illustrative covers by Yanagihara himself, as well as racy nude photography and explicit sexual illustration (with j-u-s-t the right amount of detail left out to not enrage censors) by Yokoo Tadanori to illustrate the bawdy tales within.

横尾忠則 / The Complete Yokoo Tadanori
横尾忠則 / Yokoo Tadanori, editor, designer
A collection of Yokoo’s work up until 1978, immediately prior to his near-death experience and decision to stop producing graphic design for much of the 1980s. This book is notable because it was edited and designed by Yokoo himself and bears traces of the darkness, vanity and egoism that permeates so much of his work. It is a beautifully, lovingly designed book and an amazing work that sums up the best of Yokoo’s career from the mid 1960s.

商業デザイン全集 / The World’s Commercial Art
Aai Sen, Hara Hiromu, Hijikata Teiichi, Imatake Shichiro, Katsumi Masaru, Kamekura Yusaku, Kono Takashi, Koike Shinji, Takiguchi Shuzo, Yamana Ayao; editorial board
Within Shogyo Design Zenshu, foreign work and domestic Japanese design work were placed side-by-side, creating a literal in-step reference for how Japanese design fit into the global continuum. This is a collection of the first four issues from 1952 through 1954, published in 1955.

造型思考ノート / (literally, Notes on Making and Looking) / Thinking Eye
Awazu Kiyoshi
This 1974 book is a loose design theory book by Modern master Awazu Kiyoshi, one of the founders of the Metabolist movement of graphic design and architecture—a post-war Japanese architectural movement that fused ideas about architectural megastructures with those of organic biological growth. Awazu is notable for his persistent leftist/Labor-oriented political leanings throughout his career.

カメラ / Camera #7
A notable 1939 photography magazine that exhorted readers to investigate both photojournalism and Moholy-Nagy-style “typo-photo”. Camera is notable for its display lettering in advertisements and “slice of life” examinations of the upper class following the explosion of photography as a leisure pursuit in Japan.

のらくろ伍長 / Corporal Norakuro
Takamizawa Michinao
Literally “Corporal Blackie the Stray Dog”, Norakuro is the tale of an amiable, aloof and earnest stray dog who attempts to pitch in to support his country by joining the Fierce Dogs Brigade, a stand-in for the Japanese Army. This lavishly designed 1969 reprint of a 1933 volume. Norakuro’s creator, Takamizawa Michinao, was a member of the revolutionary avant garde art/design/architecture group MAVO in the early 1920s, a little-discussed link between proletarian graphic design and the then-nascent form of manga. Interestingly, despite widespread appeal and the nationalistic message the manga conveys, Norakuro’s production was forcibly ceased in 1941, immediately pre-war, due to it’s message being “frivolous” by the Press Unit of the Army of Japan. The importance of this manga cannot be understated, as it was the main influence on Tezuka Osamu, “The Father of Manga”, in his childhood, and what pushed him to be a manga cartoonist.


We just had two more amazing lectures in my design class at Temple University Japan to round out the Visual Playlist theme for the class this semester.

Cameron McKean, editor of Too Much Magazine, lectured on utopian/dystopian communities and architecture, the rise of Brutalism in Graphic Design and Architecture, and the development of contemporary design aesthetics.

It was a rousing lecture that touched on Father Yod, 032c, Purple, cults, and so much more.

Noel Callan of TUJ/Debt Maggots/Anti-Whales gave a rousing lecture on the intersection of Phenomenology and Graphic Design through music packaging and the sensory pitfalls of Big Data.

Noel’s amazing presentation included this gem of a quotable, “In our lives, our experience of ourselves is more akin to a song than to an image”, echoing Husserl’s ideas of ‘now’ being comprised of the present, as well as memory and the assumed future.

An immense round of thanks to Cameron, Noel and Taro Nettleton for presenting amazing lectures to the class – it made for a really unique semester for myself and the students!


Wit and Design

An extensive range of our work is featured in the new book Wit and Design by GooRyong Kang, published by G Colon in Korea.

GooRyong Kang's Wit and Design

The book also features a lengthy interview with me, and a handsomely shot portrait photo by Mr. Patrick Tsai. I should note, the book is all in Korean, and in case you weren’t sure, my name in Korean transliterates to 이안 라이넘.


World Atlas of StreetArt and Graffiti

I wrote an essay about Tokyo graffiti in the new book, The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti, published by Quarto and Yale University Press.


제14회 국민대학교 조형전, 조형콘퍼런스 'IM' 페이지입니다.

I will be speaking at the 14th Chohyung Exhibition and Conference (제14회 국민대학교 조형전, 조형콘퍼런스 ‘IM’ 페이지입니다) in Seoul on November 8th and 9th. I will be speaking about Timelessness versus Timeliness in Graphic Design for one lecture, and about the Emergence of Japanese Graphic Design for the second. If you are in Seoul, please do come join us!

Other speakers include Mr. Keedy from CalArts, Chris Ro from Kookmin and Hongik Universities, and many other academics and designers across multiple media from the U.S., Japan, Korea, and elsewhere!

More on Facebook.

제14회 국민대학교 조형전, 조형콘퍼런스 ‘IM’ 페이지입니다.
The 14th Chohyung Exhibition and Conference
전시 : 11월 8일~17일

The official description:
전시: 11월 8일~17일
콘퍼런스: 11월 8일~10일
국민대학교 조형대학

Exhibition: Friday, November 8th – Sunday November 17th
Conference: Friday, November 8th – Sunday November 10th
College of Design, Kookmin University

국민대학교 조형전, 조형콘퍼런스는 우리 시대의 디자인과 디자인 교육을 얘기하고자 합니다. 이성적이면서 직관적인, 전문적이지만 모두가 공유하는, 눈에 띄지 않지만 어디에나 존재하는 디자인을 끌어내어 얘기하고자 합니다. 문화와 산업에 긴밀하게 얽힌 사회활동으로서의 디자인은 어떤 개인이나 집단의 독단적인 생각으로 형성될 수 없습니다. 디자인에 대해 말하고자 한다면 먼저 주변과 동료를 진지하게 살피는 것이 우선입니다. 그래서 우리는 조형전, 조형콘퍼런스를 주목해야 합니다. 이곳에 모이는 국내외 디자이너, 교육자, 비평가, 학생은 서로를 바라보고 얘기함으로써 현재 디자인 사회의 모습을 나눌 것입니다. 한국 디자인 사회의 가장 생생한 현장을 목격하세요.

We are here to share ideas about design and design education of our time at the Chohyung Exhibition and Conference. We are to share a discourse about our area which is logical and intuitive, professional and public, transparent and omnipresent. Design as a social study and activity cannot be built by a dogmatic idea by individuals. To truly understand this area, we must look around our colleagues. Come and join this pleasant event in Kookmin University, Seoul. Witness the most vivid moment of our peer community.

Nodai Lab

On an unrelated note, we have been busy extending the identity for Tokyo NODAI‘s (National University of Agriculture) Center for International Japanese Garden Studies’ assorted departments and research initiatives.


TUJ Graphic Design Glow Spatial Hierarchy project

We tried a new project the other day in my Graphic Design 2 class at Temple University Japan, and I’m excited about the process and results.

Computer Imaging II at TUJ

I asked the students to create geometric form using glow-in-the-dark iron-on material and then apply the material to black tee shirts.

TUJ Glow

We then put on our tee shirts and examined different spatial hierarchies by composing ourselves as the design elements in the windowless 3D design studio with the lights off.

Each class member took a turn directing, and once a composition was created (in essence, designed and choreographed), it was documented by the directing individual using a digital camera with a wide aperture and slow shutter speed.

In general, it was a really fun experiential group project that allowed each student to design without using the computer while still using fairly complex form.


VCFA Thesis Show

The inaugural graduating class of the VCFA MFA Graphic Design program will be exhibiting their Thesis Show from October 14-19 at VCFA.
It’s a really exciting thing—to work with these amazing folks. I’m really proud of each and every one of them. Each has sweated blood to bring his or her thesis to life, and I am amped to be with them during their thesis presentations and to be with them as they graduate.
See more:


An expanded version of my essay “Japanese Graphic Design: Not in Production” was just published over at Modes of Criticism.


Ian Lynam X D. V. D'Andrea

A new poster for the Fall Into Darkness festival in Portland featuring Nik Turner’s Space Ritual (ex-Hawkwind) and many others. The poster is a collaboration with David D’Andrea, my old rooomate and good friend. Borne out of a mutual love for the work of Hawkwind designer Barney Bubbles, we dreamed up this collaboration, screened in multiple colors on black paper in homage to the late, ever-great Mr. Colin Fulcher.


Essayist, critic, translator, zine editor and educator Taro Nettleton will be giving a lecture in my design class at Temple University today at noon in Room 507 in Azabu Hall. The lecture is open to the public. Nettleton will be lecturing on the theme of “The Visual Playlist” – presenting an image-based mixtape of album covers which have helped shape contemporary visual culture.


We got a sweet little writeup in the CalArts blog today.


David Matthew Davis and Thea Lorentzen designed these amazing ten-color silkscreened posters for Kiyonori Muroga and my recent trip to CalArts for our Idea Magazine workshop and lecture  at the school.

Thank you, guys!!!


The Letterfirm exhibition opening went off amazingly well. Over 250 folks stopped in to check out the work, have a few drinks and bob their heads to the amazing sounds of DJ E*Rock.

Thanks to the TypeCon team for inviting us to have the exhibition and mega-thanks to Reading Frenzy for making it happen!

All photos by Bitna Chung Photography.


The latest issue of Idea Magazine – #360 – is out now. It features a 96-page feature that I edited, designed and wrote big chunks of.

For a week, Idea Editor-in-Chief Kiyonori Muroga and I stayed in Valencia, the home of CalArts, to “work on a design research/writing/making/collecting/documenting project about CalArts itself, it’s history, it’s current state, ephemera, and researching in a very open way”, making CalArts both the laboratory and the subject.

The result is an image-rich look at the past few generations of CalArts alumni, the work of faculty and related projects.

Included is work by Ed Fella, Lorraine Wild, Mr. Keedy, Caryn Aono, Scott Zukowski, Silas Munro, Tasheka Arceneaux-Sutton, Mark Kulakoff, Corey Holms, Jon Sueda, Geoff McFetridge, Megan McGinley, Max Erdenberger, Brian Roettinger, Scott Massey, Andrea Tinnes, Tim Belonax, John Wiese, Jae Hyouk-Sung, Micah Hahn, Michael Worthington, Gail Swanlund, Louise Sandhaus, and many, many others.

The feature is crammed to the gills with bilingual essays and interviews.

You can pick up a copy here.


The Letterfirm Reader

I’ve put together a 44-page booklet of recent graphic design and typography-related writing for the upcoming Letterfirm exhibition at TypeCon. The booklet, printed with loving care by Portland’s amazing Eberhardt Press, will be available at the exhibition opening and will be distributed for free to all TypeCon attendees in their burgeoning goodie bags.