In the current issue of Art Practical, I review Elaine Buckholtz’ exhibition at Triple Base. There’s also a thoughtful review of We have as much time as it takes by Jessica Brier.
To be considered a “serious” artist, there’s pressure to downplay one’s non-art practices — even visual ones like graphic design. Art professionals need to distinguish between dabblers and lifers, but that shouldn’t be hard. It’s perplexing that this dissociation persists.
Consider art since 1960, and the typographic sensitivity of many Conceptualists.
Consider how aspiring artists and designers learn. My early creative interests were unbounded — drawing horses and floorplans as a kid, making zine collages as a teenager, studying printmaking (AKA graphic arts) in college.
Further, my making skills — whether tinkering, bookmaking, or print and web design — enhance my art capacity, especially now that I’m making text-based installations and producing multiples. It seems obvious that design is a useful skill set for artists; fellow artists and art institutions need graphic design, too.
Good design conveys risk-taking and visual sophistication. For example, Stripe‘s print and signage design for the Wattis and Cinthia Wen’s/Design at Noon’s identity design for YBCA* are innovative, flat-out gorgeous assets.
So I’m excited to have the chance to bring my design skills to a contemporary art context. After a terrific experience creating new work for Southern Exposure‘s Bellwether exhibition, I was invited to design the poster for SoEx’s next show. The alternative arts organization has a history of working with award-winning designers like McFadden & Thorpe and Post Tool, so I earnestly accepted. The poster will be arriving in mailboxes and shop windows in the coming weeks. You can’t miss it.
In the meantime, worlds (art and killer typography) collide: Emigré is having a show at Gallery 16.
EMIGRE at Gallery 16
December 18 – January 29, 2010
Opening reception on Friday December 18 from 6 – 9pm
Emigre, Inc. is a digital type foundry in Berkeley, whose magazines were an inspiration since year zero B.M. (Before Macintosh). You can bet that there will be gorgeous posters, publications and, quite possibly, some hand-thrown pots. Because designers can be artists too.
An outro in the rock ballad of this blog post:
I’m not so idealistic as to pretend that there aren’t differences between being a graphic designer and being an artist. Last week when M, a workaholic early-bird designer, started staying up late to obsessively photograph his design portfolio, I told him that he’s becoming an artist. His response:
(*Disclosure: Occasionally I work at the Wattis and YBCA doing design/vinyl/preparator work.)
Avant Garde Medium, DIN Cond Bold, American Typewriter, Futura Bold Oblique
I’ve been underground (metaphorically and literally, sort of: my studio’s in a basement), preparing for Galleon Trade at Bay Area Now/YBCA. So I’m emerging to view other shows, just in time for the fall art season! (As Anu pointed out on her blog, Why do we all still live by the semester cycle?)
The exhibitions at the Wattis can be theatrical and unconventional, but I was pleasantly surprised with rewarding experiences at the new evolution of Passengers and the brand-new The Wizard of Oz exhibition.
Really, even if I weren’t a light bulb freak (I dreamed of blue LED displays and reflector bulbs this morning), who wouldn’t love Carsten Höller‘s Wonderful signage, with a timed light-show sequence? Cans in the shape of letters with crystal clear incandescents. It’s nostalgic for the 20th century, which is only eight years ago when you think about it…
I was delighted to stumble into this in a far room of the Wattis. I am a huge (yooouj!) Ligon fan, and came to appreciate his black-ed out neon work more after reading a great critical and phenomenological response to “Negro Sunshine,” (Richard Meyer’s “Light it Up, or How Glenn Ligon Got Over,” Artforum, May 2006). Blacked-out neon America: Brilliant! I like the outlined typewriter typeface, it’s somehow appropriately spook-y.
One of my favorite quotes is about oscillating between the container and the contained (from the Fluxus artist Daniel Spöerri), so of course I also was thrilled to come across this neon piece on Regen Project’s website too.
Brick-books of theory. The Wattis, of course, is housed on the campus of my alma mater, so for purely personal reasons, critical theory book wraparounds on cinder blocks are a riot. Of course, with all good conceptual art, the more you know, the better it gets. Fontaine is not an individual, but a French collective, and the installation is a meditation on the Paris 1968 riots, where a brick was more than a building material, but a weapon, a symbol of revolutionary actions. While anarchist communities are still active today (you will know them by their bicycle bumper stickers), it’s nice to be reminded of the once-obvious connection between critical theory and direct action.