Imaginary Interview – Menna Hafez

The chosen graphic designer for the interview is Ellen Lupton

It is important to give a brief history of Ellen Lupton as a graphic designer. Lupton is one of the few female designers not only in America but worldwide. This is because this profession is dominated by males as compared to the female gender. Apart from being a Graphic Design MFA program director of at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, she also works in the National Design Museum as curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt (Ellen, 2010). She was born in 1963 in Pennsylvania but grew up in Baltimore MD. She is a twin sister to Julia whose life has not been published as much as Ellen’s She has published several books of graphic designs in different spheres for a variety of audiences due to her love for typography and art. Below is an excerpt from an interview that I carried out with her:

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Question: Who is Ellen Lupton as an individual and in the context of graphic design?

Answer: I am many persons in one being. First I am a mother of two lovely sons, Ruby and Jay; secondly, a wife to Mr. Abbot Miller; thirdly I am a sister to one and only twin sister called Dr. Julia who we have collaborated with in design work and have written few books together such as Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things and D.I.Y Kids, just to mention the two.

Within the context of graphic design, my hands are full because apart from being a graphic designer, I am also a director and curator by equal measure and most importantly a writer. I have personally authored more than ten books and co-authored several excluding the peer review ones which I have done many times.

Question: I know you have been involved in many graphic design projects. Would you pinpoint one of your memorable projects by giving the facts how you commissioned this project?

Answer: I do not want to give an impression that I take a specialty in my different projects. I must mention that I do treat and value all my projects in equal measure. However, because you have asked about only one I would like to mention the one I did in 2006 which was about the Triennial. It was titled “Design Life Now.” The reason why I take this project with the exception is the fact that it was purposely designed to catapult the graphic design to the modern life. It was an eye-opener to the social media as it included some populist forms of new social media such as the open-source software, blogs, and D.I.Y magazines (Ellen, 2010). All these were designed to make design literacy part of the mainstream culture, thus helping to put my own desire and design in the public domain. To affirm this point, I need to point out that I am an avid blogger just for the purpose of constructively engaging the public on matters graphic design. I am much active on two blogs: design-your-life.org and DIYKids.org. These are two sites that constantly apply design to everyday life and are co-edited with my twin sister Julia.

Question: Thank you for that in-depth answer. Now, would you volunteer to us some of the restrictions and requirements that the project had to put in place?

Answer: Thank you also for asking such an important question. First, I want to make mention of Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore where I am the Graphic Design MFA program director. This is a special mention because, apart from the institution providing me with the graphic design lab that I have enjoyed working from, they availed to me some of the budding graphic designers who are still adventures and able to learn through taking academic risks. The project required such professionals in order to come to fruition. Another important requirement for the project were the resources (in terms of literature for research purposes and equipment; this was made available by the lab that we worked from). Secondly, when you talk of restriction, I may not be in a position to tell which restrictions you are inferring to; but I can tell you for a fact that I was restricted by the funds that were available to the project. We could only do as much as the point to which the funds allowed us. A caveat though, I am not lamenting of the scarcity of funds to cast the institution in a bad light. No, the institution has endeavored to ensure that it appropriates research funds accordingly and has been helpful to us only that the institution has several projects in different faculties that must also run.

Question: What were your intentions, viewpoint, and thoughts on this particular project?

Answer: You see, one of the notions that people have always held on to is that graphic design is a reserve for the chosen few: and that it should be within the realm of such people. But you realize that we are leaving in a global village and we must act like the same. Culture is dynamic and globalization makes it change in such a way that is terrific. Bringing graphic design to the social media was a way of reaching to everyone that values graphic design. Moreover, I think that it helped me to demystify this notion that it is only a reserve for the few. And I think the project helped in doing just that.

Question: How do you think your contribution as a graphic designer has impacted on your admirers and anybody that follows your work?

Answer: I am glad that I am not only a designer but also a curator too. Going by the nature of my work, I am glad that it has not only imparted knowledge to many but informed the general public because my graphic design work touches on different spheres of life.

Question: Lastly, How do you feel about the fact that you are one of the few females in this profession?

Answer: Awesome!!

Interviewer: Thank you for your time.

 

Design Inspo: Schreibkunst Poster

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Josef Müller-Brockmann: Concert Poster for the Zurich Town Hall (1951)

Swiss International style gained traction after WW2. It emerged from earlier design styles like De Stijl, Constructivism, Bauhaus, and The New Typography, except unlike those movements, International style didn’t come with the historical contexts.

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Exhibition poster, 2011

This poster is influenced by the earlier one, as it is based on a grid and can is very legible. Both of these designs are very neutral, which was a trait of International style as Switzerland was a neutral country. This poster is reliant on font weights, sans serif, and asymmetrical composition which is inspired from the first one in terms of design movements. Both of these are exhibition posters, which require clear and legible information which is why the second poster is suited to be done in international style.

Interview with Theo van Doesburg

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Theo van Doesburg
Dutch Painter, Designer, and Architect 

 

In 1917, Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg established the De Stijl movement – translating to ‘the style’ in Dutch. It included a utopian vision and avant-garde design. The intention of De Stijl artists is to reveal universal harmony via visual design. The movement’s core concepts include geometric shapes – such as straight lines, rectangles, and squares – and primary colors.

Today we will be speaking with Theo van Doesburg.

 

Q: It’s exciting to be speaking with you today, Mr. van Doesburg. How are you today?
TVD: I’m doing well, thank you.

Q: You’ve revolutionized a movement. Your beliefs were clear, concise, and strong.
TVD: Thank you. The movement initiated due to a need to communicate – we had big ideas and truths to reveal. As artists, it came out in a visual language. I coined terms like ‘neoplasticism’ to further explain the new concepts.

Q: Why did you feel the need to coin the term ‘neoplasticism’?
TVD: It can be hard to explain abstract concepts. De Stijl artists needed a vocabulary that didn’t exist to explain this new concept. ‘Neoplasticism’ is a term unique to De Stijl and articulates the visual aspects of our core set of beliefs – primary color use, geometric shapes, strong horizontal and vertical line use, and a sense of balance and harmony that is unique to this particular style.

Q: Can you explain the De Stijl movement?
TVD: De Stijl is the style we use to express our concepts. I believe that painting, architecture, and design should be integrated into one. This is what spurred the creation of De Stijl. Our goals as artists, designers, and architects include revealing the harmony of the world through the use of geometric shapes, primary color, and prominent line use.

Q: What is it about you that made you into a revolutionary?
TVD: Thank you. I prefer to think of myself as a person who has an idea to communicate – an important set of beliefs to show the workings of the universe – my purpose is clear. It’s important to share this new knowledge in a clear way that others can understand, so as to reflect the truth of the universe in art. The integration of these creative fields is a step into the future.

Q: Why was it important to you to create the new art style?
TVD: Because nothing like it existed. Prior to De Stijl, each of these creative fields were treated as being separate. We needed to articulate the laws of the universe – the harmony, the balance. To do this, minimal design elements are required – as a matter of fact, only the most basic elements reveal this truth – geometric shapes, balanced compositions, and primary colors.

Q: What do you think makes De Stijl architecture successful?
TVD: The geometric shapes and primary colors create balance. The harmony of the universe is displayed in the visuals of the structures. The structure functions as an example of design, art, and architecture reflected in one piece.

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Counter Composition in Dissonance 16 (1925) 

Q: Which piece of yours do you believe reflects the ideals of the De Stijl Movement best?
TVD: Each piece reflects the concepts of the movement in its own way. My favorite piece of mine, personally, is Counter Composition in Dissonance 16 (1925). This is because it includes the use of primary color, as well as all other formal elements!

Q: What makes your pieces graphic design?
TVD: They are simple designs used to communicate an idea.

Q: Can you define ‘harmony’?
TVD: Of course. In De Stijl, ‘harmony’ refers to the balance of design elements on the page – as well as their ability to reflect the balance in the universe.

Q: Your personal take on De Stijl is Elementarism. Can you speak on this a bit?
TVD: Of course. Elementarism ‘emphasizes subtle shifts in tones, tilting squares and rectangles at angles relative to the picture plane, and allowed straight horizontal and vertical lines to be colored, varied in length, and disconnected from one another.’

Q: What are your hopes for the future of design?
TVD: That the ideas of De Stijl permeate the blanket of the world and reveal to the people that the universal harmony and art are one. I would like to see the integration of art, design, and architecture continue.

Q: Thank you so much for your time, Mr. van Doesburg.
TVD: My pleasure!

 
Theartstory.org. Important Art and Artists of De Stijl. The Art Story Foundation. 2018. Web. Accessed March 21st, 2018.

Arithmetic Composition by Theo van Doesburg
https://www.artsy.net/artwork/theo-van-doesburg-arithmetic-composition

           De Stijl
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/d/de-stijl

Theartstory.org. Important Art by Theo van Doesburg. The Art Story Foundation. 2018. Web. Accessed March 21st, 2018.

Creative Synesthesia April Greiman

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April Greiman – Poster for Warner Records, 1982 (http://c86.tumblr.com/post/40718632703/april-greiman-poster-for-warner-records-1982)

I think this poster would smell of sweet fruity candies and champagne. It gives me a feeling of a grand party of young and hip individuals that are networking or socializing with a purpose in mind rather it be dating, or broadening their social horizons. The elements of the poster would move in bouncing like fashion making contact with one another in a randomized fashion. The colours are very loud from the top down into the center of the poster and then is disturbed by silent black plans that seem to interrupt and silence the energy in the piece.

If I were to put this piece into the medium of music I would envision a jazzy swing music with a storm trumpet lead that uses sufficient amount of vibrato in its long notes. This piece to me translates well into the note of the trumpet because it is very loud and boisterous, each colour is very distinctly separate from each other, similar to the notes played by a trumpet.

Similar to this exert of music:

 

Creative Synesthesia: Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge

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Beat the Whites with the Red WedgeEl Lissitzky, 1919.

 

This amazing piece was one of Lissitzky’s earliest creation made in 1919. By placing geometric shapes in a smart way, it creates lot of movement. “Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge” also became the most famous piece from constructivism.

By looking at the shapes, it shows me a message of loud noise and repetitive pattern of movement, like using a drill through the walls, or hitting the hammer on the table, creating a intense atmosphere of action and war. There are multiple red rectangles around the image, and they sort of push the appearance of the big one, and the light grey triangles on the background are placed like they were hardly break through by the giant rectangle. The whole image is so powerful, and I find it just like hard drum beats. The beat start with small snares, and it gets louder and louder, suddenly the drum kicks in and make the tension go higher and higher, just like the art piece. The drum beats are so hard and they are just like the red wedge that represents the Bolshevik revolutionaries as they penetrate the anti-communist White army.

This is a soundtrack from video game PAYDAY2, it is the beat example of my synthesia for Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge. 

It is long, but just like the art piece, it builds up slowly, and explode at a certain point, makes the whole art complete while builds a strong movement and power in to it. (You can skip through some part to listen to the difference in each stage of the beat if it is too long.)

Work Cited:

“Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge.” Utopia/Dystopia, 1 Jan. 2013, utopiadystopiawwi.wordpress.com/constructivism/el-lissitzky/beat-the-whites-with-the-red-wedge/.

Six-Word Summary: Art Nouveau

Six-word summary for the Art Nouveau Historical Period.

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Freely feminine.

Organic, orientalism;

sensuous ornamentalism…

 

Resources

Eskilson, Stephen J. Graphic Design: A New History. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2012.

(Image): https://welovescrumpygraphics.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/style-art-nouveau-scotland-and-more-charles-rennie-mackintosh-and-others/

 

Imaginary Interview of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

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Interviewer: Hello, ladies and gentlemen, today we have a graphic designer in the house, please welcome Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec! Thank you for taking some time off from your busy schedule to be here with us tonight!

Lautrec: Good Evening everyone, it’s my pleasure to be here!

Interviewer: So, as most of us already know you worked as an artist and a graphic designer during the Art Nouveau in France. Could you tell us a little bit about your background and your career as an artist in the 1890’s?

Lautrec: Yes, for sure. Living in the Montmartre of Paris I was constantly surrounded by scenes and artists that inspired my works. Rather than themes of historic revivals, I was always more interested in the visuals of the urban life. As the idea of nightlife and cafes grew popular in France, I often found myself at cabarets, cafes, and restaurants, where I found aspiration for my works. I love to capture alluring scenes of the nightlife. 

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Interviewer: Great, Thank you, I noticed that you focused greatly on depicting scenes of the cabaret. Looking at your posters, I can feel the captivating energy of the cabaret dancers. So, I’d like to ask about your specific artwork titled, Mademoiselle Eglantine’s Troupe.

Lautrec: Mademoiselle Eglantine’s Troupe was a poster design that was commissioned by my good friend and an amazing cabaret dancer, Jean Avril. It was used to advertise a cabaret tour of Mademoiselle Eglantine’s Troupe in Britain.

Interviewer: What was the process of creating this poster?

Lautrec: First of all, as I experienced the Eglantine’s Troupe’s cabaret myself, I drew rough sketches on paper capturing the movement and energy of the dancers. After, I transformed the sketches into a lithograph print.

Interviewer: Speaking of lithography techniques, could you tell us more about your style? What inspired you to create this poster?

Lautrec: I was greatly inspired by Japanese woodblock prints as they focus greatly on forms and movement. Japanese art at the time dealt with ideas of playful erotism and depicting women as visualized and somewhat sexualized figure. The themes of Japanese art correlate greatly with my ideas, so it was very inspiring to me. I was especially inspired by their use of negative space, black contour lines and unusual perspectives in Ukiyo-e art.

Interviewer: Very interesting, And what was your main goal in designing this poster?

Lautrec: As this poster was an advertisement for the cabaret, it was a requirement to be able to catch the attention of people on the streets. I believed the method of color lithography would be very suitable for it. I purposely chose colors such as yellow and orange to draw people’s eyes. The delvelopment of color lithography allowed for the poster to be mass produced and plastered through streets of Paris.

Interviewer: Did it reach your original intentions?

Lautrec: I believe that this specific poster reached its intention of accurately depicting the women on a cabaret stage. As I chose to use organic lines, freedom of movement, I tried my best to capture the beauty the dancers.

Interviewer: Why do you think your work was so successful as an advertisement for the cabaret?

Lautrec: Rather than portraying a fictitious characters, I chose to depict real-life individuals. This way, I was able to give the viewers an accurate graphic glimpse of the Belle Epoque era.

Interviewer: Thank you, your poster design is very beautiful and it was such an honor to be able to discuss your work today. Thank you very much, again for your time.

Lautrec: No problem, it has been my pleasure to be able to share my work with you today.