Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Field Trip, NYC-Style (2010)

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Every year the students and select faculty of PCA&D's Graphic Design department venture to NYC for a day of art in the big city. This year, we arrived a little early so I led some of the students through nearby Times Square. Sadly, due to limited time, we had to turn down an offer from Extra who invited our group to gather around the set of their upcoming interview with Motley Crue's Vince Neil. Only in NYC, right? We missed you, Mr. Neil.

The official festivities, all rock and roll escapades aside, began when Pam Barby started the day off with a visit to the offices of multi-media giants, Firstborn. Dan LaCivita, President of Firstborn, gave everyone a fantastic presentation of their cutting edge work – and the process behind it – for Doritos, Sobe and the Titanic. Coming from a self-proclaimed "visual engineer of the printed matter," my brain was exploding at all the cutting edge, multi-media experience conceptual work the agency creates. To say the least, the students truly enjoyed getting a behind-the-scenes look into how the marketing of major brand products is both conceived and executed.

After we departed Firstborn, I took a group of 15+ students with me on my "Chelsea Experience" tour of the city's storied and art-filled west side neighborhood (and my former home). It's my opinion that designers should be artists first and foremost and the goal of my tour was to expose students to a balance of design and fine art.

Art was put aside for the moment, however, as our first stop was Patsy's Pizzeria on 23rd for lunch. So much for the starving artists, right? Patsy's, while very different than St. Mark's Pizza on the L.E.S., bakes up some of the best crust and sauce in the city.

Our second stop was Printed Matter; the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of publications made by artists. For those interested in the avant-garde, the alternative printing processes and the feeling of unique books and packaging – Printed Matter is a dream of a book store. Next, we took in Pace Gallery's "50 Years at Pace" celebration. Pace have 5 spaces throughout Chelsea and each featured a unique look at the work they've represented over their five decades of art in NYC. Between the 2 spaces we stopped in, we were able to observe iconic works by Close, Johns, Rothko, Rauschenberg, Steinberg, Pollock, DeBuffet, Nevelson, Oldenburg, Warhol, Lichtenstein and beyond – most of which were on loan from the Tate, Whitney, MOMA, National Museum of the Smithsonian and beyond, unlikely to ever be hung together as a singular show again.

And finally, everyone on the trip was to reconvene at MOMA for Target Free Friday nights there. Thankfully my group was able to soak in legendary mid-20th century art at Pace because MOMA's 4th floor exhibit of their work from this period was closed. MOMA's highlights included the "Shaping Modernity: Design 1880–1980" and "Underground Gallery: London Transport Posters 1920s–1940s" exhibits. After a couple hours at the museum, it was time to head home and while I was loving the day of art, my body was telling me it was time to rest.

Overall, NYC offers up so many unique experiences and I was happy to share some of my favorite places with my students. I'm already thinking ahead to next year's trip and what we'll be able to put together in 2011. Until then…

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Week In The Life…

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I, like 10 quadrillion people before me, hold Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr close to my heart. Since first entering the ranks of the music industry, my life has been full of fantastic moments that brought my childhood adoration full circle. From meeting, working, eating, drinking, designing for and traveling with musicians I grew up idolizing – I've lived a blessed life.

The latest moment for me was being granted the privilege of doing production design on CD + T-shirt box packages for The Beatles and John Lennon that will hit the stores later in the fall. To have Apple Records come back and say that these "look really good" is a truly surreal moment for me. After all, as far back as the early 70s, I can remember holding The Beatles records and staring at the green apple on Side A and the exposed, white apple core on Side B. And now I'm placing that very apple into a production design of my own. Life is pretty good…

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Photo-Lettering, Revived

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In yet another unique endeavor, the certifiable type nerds over at House Industries have purchased the archives of Photo-Lettering and plan to launch a design web-service where designers will be able to build custom headlines, logotypes and more. Here's more information on the venture, from the H.I. press release:

"House Industries, a Yorklyn, Delaware-based independent type foundry, purchased the entire physical assets of Photo-Lettering in April of 2003. Through a partnership with Ken Barber, Christian Schwartz and Erik van Blokland, House Industries is carefully digitizing select alphabets from the collection and plans to offer them through a modern web-based interface.

"Photo-Lettering was a mainstay of the advertising and design industry in New York City from 1936 to 1997. PLINC, as it was affectionately known to art directors, was one of the earliest and most successful type houses to utilize photo technology in the production of commercial typography and lettering. It employed such design luminaries as Ed Benguiat and sold type drawn by the likes of Herb Lubalin, Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast as well as countless other unsung lettering greats. The company is best known by most of today's graphic designers for its ubiquitous type catalogs."

Look for the web-service here later in 2010 and sign up to be the first to know! In the meantime, there's a great set of 20" x 26" plywood prints and serigraphs available here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

2010 PCA&D Faculty Biennial

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Although open to the public since August 6th, the artist reception for PCA&D's 2010 Faculty Biennial exhibit was held on Friday, September 3rd. I had 3 items on display: the Century Media 20th anniversary series of CD covers, a photograph taken at Spring Grove Hospital and the Misery Obscura: The Photography Of Eerie Von (1981-2009) book.

Thanks to everyone for coming out on First Friday. It was a gorgeous night to see fellow faculty, friends, family and students out on the town in support of the arts.

(The 3 photos below were taken by Jennifer Martin.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

2 Artists, 2 Portraits

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Whilst digging through my archives of works on paper, I came upon a couple portraits from the early 1990s. One of a great artist and inspirational figure in my life, illustrator Ralph Steadman (above), and the other of an old friend and neighbor in New York City, photographer Horacio Salinas (below).

I sent the work of Mr. Steadman to his home address in England around 1993, along with a photo of myself, in hopes of exchanging portraits with him. Instead, I received a letter from his wife, as well as my drawing and photograph, politely declining my request stating that, "Ralph doesn't do this kind of thing." If only I could find that letter some 10 moves around the country later. Anyway, I digress…

Horacio's portrait was based on a photograph I took of him in around 1994 during our time as neighbors in my first apartment in Chelsea, NYC. Horacio and I lost touch many, many years ago now but I recently found his website packed with truly inspiring, high-end work. I'm not in the least bit surprised, mind you, even in his youth he was a ridiculously talented photographer.

For more on the artists themselves:
Find Ralph's work here and Horacio's here.