Sunday Design Tidbits of Fun

design, design books, fine arts, guerilla art, inspirational people, music, non-profit, typography

Thank you to all who voted for my shirt designs at Storyville Apparel! I got the designs in before the voting ended, though I thought I had a few more hours of voting. But to those that tried and couldn’t, I thank you for your effort and support as well! I will find out tomorrow morning at the Storyville blog whether or not I won. Even if I didn’t, Storyville has some very cool items for you to check out!

I read the other day on Steven Heller’s Print Magazine blog that there is a new book about one of my favorite typographer/designers coming out soon! Long past due, this new book at Herb Lubalin will be out in August, and I cannot wait. Pre-order here.

Shepard Fairey is on the move again, with a new mural up in Paris called “Rise Above Rebel.” Check it out at Street Art News! And in other Shepard Fairey news, the VMFA in Richmond currently has one on view. The link is a little unclear as to whether it’s a new acquisition or is on loan, so you better check it out sooner than later just to be safe!

Yesterday I took a trip out to Culpeper, Virginia to see the property my dad has recently acquired. On the way home I stopped into Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park to see some of the National Park Service wayside panels I designed about 10 years ago! From what I understand, it took them about 6 years to produce and finally install the pieces, but that’s still no excuse for waiting so long to see them in person.

And my husband ordered himself some new business cards that he designed himself this week! I’m either rubbing off on them or he’s been holding out his design skillz on me – I love them!

And my last little tid bit of design news for the day is that the Music Box musical architecture experience in New Orleans has seen it’s last big events before they will disassemble and begin work on a permanent structure. Check their blog in the next few days for sound and video clips of the work and talks – they are fantastic about uploading parts of all the amazing events that have taken place. I’m sure they will update the weekend’s events as well. But for now, they have plenty of interesting clips to keep you busy.


In Defense of Graphic Design as Art

design, design inspiration, design theory, fine arts, guerilla art

So what’s the difference between graphic design and art anyway? The short answer: I don’t know. I think, these days, it’s a bit more of a grey area than it has been in the past. I think we have all been taught that design communicates a message and art communicates a feeling. But doesn’t that line blur in some cases? Many cases? Perhaps all cases? What if your design client is Barack Obama circa 2007 and you’re a graffiti artist trying to deliver a message of “hope” to a nation of skeptics? As far as I can tell, “hope” is a feeling, but Obama is a product, and Shepard Fairey and the Obey Giant crew skirt a style line somewhere between fine art and design.

Snootyartfaces in front of Shepard Fairey installation, Cambridge, MA, 2009

So the first point of this post is, who really knows the difference between art and design anymore? Is there a difference? Is it all being blurred? Can’t a designer put as much heart and soul into a poster as a painter puts into a painting?

I have a controversial opinion that a painter, painting study after study of a bowl of fruit is not in fact “delivering a feeling” or leaving anything open to interpretation. I think that painter is trying to improve his or her craft. Some of our favorite and most revered works of art are just studies on a theme. Are commissioned fine artists all that different from a modern graphic designer? I think we like to idealize the works of many painters, needing to believe that there was more to a work than commission. Are we forgetting that the Sistine Chapel was a commissioned piece?*

My second and final point of this post is that though the line between art and design seems to have blurred a bit, no great work playing for either team would be a great work if there weren’t a passionate human behind it. The Sistine Chapel would not exist in the extraordinary fashion it does, commission or not, if Michelangelo hadn’t been a truly passionate painter with a gift for figure and movement and dedication to his art. I believe the same is true for designers, in all senses of the word. Like a fine artist, a great designer is someone who has a passion for figure and form, color and space. I think that if a designer is working on something he or she is truly passionate about, then they cannot help but deliver a genuine feeling through their work.

*disclaimer: I love the traditional fine arts. I paint on the side, and I think knowing how to be both a designer and a painter makes for a more well-rounded “artist” of any type.