Give the same creative brief to three different designers and you’re likely to get back three different solutions. Take for example the poster competition sponsored by the Canadian Council on Learning and the Canadian Commission of UNESCO to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and mark International Adult Learners’ Week last March. Sixty designers across Canada submitted their portfolios; three were commissioned to design posters around the theme “Learning is a Human Right.” Here’s what the three had to say about their design approach.
Internationally known poster artist Andrew Lewis in Brentwood Bay, BC, explains “Learning takes place deep inside our ‘grey matter’, which, in my mind, is not grey at all, but a fanned out Pantone book, not in any arranged order but an explosion of random colors. Sketching with colored pencils on paper, I developed this image where the left side is a flat range of colors that move right and literally left the page, or the mind. The original image was smack dab in the center of the page, so using scissors, I cut it in half and moved it over, then realized I could make a pattern, suggesting that we as humans become connected through the process of learning.”
Editor’s Note: Over the past 50 years, Diseño Shakespear has had a transformative impact on design in Argentina. Founded by Ronald Shakespear, the Buenos Aires-based consultancy has left its visual imprint on several of Argentina’s most important public facilities, including wayfinding systems for the Buenos Aires subway, hospitals, the Temaiken Zoo and sports centers. This has earned Shakespear a global reputation, recognized in design journals, exhibitions in Europe and the U.S., and induction as a Fellow in the Society of Environmental Graphic Design in 2008. Between 1985 and 1992, he served as head professor at the University of Buenos Aires Division of Architecture, Design and Urbanism, and now with his sons, Lorenzo and Juan, and daughter, Barbara, serve clients through Diseño Shakespear. Here, Shakespear acts as our “foreign correspondent,” talking about the state of design in Argentina.
What makes the history of Argentina’s design industry unique and challenging?
The history of graphic design in Argentina cannot be understood without taking into account the context, the country’s history and, more recently, its social and economic policies. Argentina is a sovereign and federal state, fully cosmopolitan, and based on two founding ethnic groups — Spain and Italy- as well as minor migration movements from countries such as Poland, Germany, Peru, England, Paraguay, Bolivia, Wales, etc. A series of de facto rulers, economic breakdowns, historically rampant inflation, have made working in Argentina difficult for everyone and particularly difficult for designers, whose work depends mostly on factors associated with a nation’s prosperity and stability.
We have all heard of the American dollar, the European Union euro, the South African rand, the Japanese yen, etc., but can you recognize currency symbols on sight? Are you aware that at least 24 countries use the “$” sign to denote that the number that follows has a monetary value? In this global economy, it has becoming increasingly important for designers, editors and proofreaders to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of money marks. Here are a few currency symbols. Using the number beside each symbol, see if you can match the symbol with the country that uses it. Note: Due to space, not all countries that share the same symbol are listed.
Of all the millions of photographs of superstar Michael Jackson, the photo of a single jewel-encrusted meshed glove encapsulated the voice, the moves, the artistry, the mystique of this incomparable performer. Jackson’s glove had become such a familiar trademark that one blogger lamented “the gloved one” is gone.
When people hear of a magazine called Meatpaper, they immediately conclude that it must be a recipe-laden publication for cooks or a trade magazine for those in the livestock and butchering business. Meatpaper is directed at neither. Actually, it is very hard to describe. Created by San Francisco-based Sasha Wizansky, whose background is fine art, graphic design and sculpture, the concept for Meatpaper started as an art project. About four years ago, Wizansky says she was struck by the realization that “everyone had a story to tell about their relationship to meat. I realized that a magazine would be a perfect way to explore this idea.”
Teaming with journalist/radio reporter Amy Standen, Wizansky self-produced what she describes as “the only magazine about the idea of meat – what we call the fleischgeist” — defined as “the spirit of the meat.” She says fleischgeist refers to “the growing cultural trend of meat consciousness, a new curiosity about not just what’s inside that hotdog, but how it got there, and what it means to be eating it.”
Editor’s Note: The global marketplace is real. Some brands are as familiar to consumers in Rio de Janeiro and London as they are to shoppers in New York City and Mumbai. That does not mean that the world now speaks a common design language nor approaches design in a universal way. What resonates in one culture may be rejected as odd, irrelevant or ignorantly offensive in another. In some cases, consumers may find the product appropriate, but the sales pitch tone-deaf and riddled with cultural clichés. Designers working across cultures confront the challenge of understanding differences in business and social customs, technologies, and typical design assignments as well as aesthetic preferences.
In the interest of broadening our knowledge, we are launching a “foreign correspondents” feature, beginning with our dear friends, Anita Luu and Sing Lin, two American designers who opened their Affiche International Asia office in Shanghai two years ago. An innocent question about the availability of Chinese typefaces led to a fascinating discussion, which is presented here.
Let’s admit this upfront: atissuejournal would not have been our first choice for a domain name. Unfortunately, we couldn’t register “@Issue” and “at-issue” and “atissue” were taken.
Fourteen years ago when we were tossing around names for a journal focusing on issues that concerned both business and design, we wanted one that did not appear biased toward one point of view or the other. (I would share the rejects with you, but they are stuck on a 3 ½” disk.) Admittedly, we were short-sighted, but in our defense, the World Wide Web was just catching on at the time; most companies did not even have websites. Making the “@” sign part of our name struck us as clever and progressive. Plus it looked good as a masthead. Little did we realize that @ couldn’t be part of a domain name. You can’t even do a Google-search because everything with the word “issue” in it pops up instead.
So, in picking a Web address for our blog, we confronted the dilemma: Do we call ourselves something else and tell readers it is from the same people who brought you @Issue? In fact, it is @Issue under a different name. Or do we try to salvage the equity built up in the brand and call it atissuejournal? Obviously, you can see what we decided. Whether we made the right choice is open for debate. You all can weigh in. You can disagree and you might be right, but we are not going to change it. The print edition will forever remain @Issue. The blog domain name will be atissuejournal, and when you get to the site, the masthead will read @Issue. That’s our decision and we’re sticking with it. (sigh!)