Thursday, March 17, 2011

Graphic designers wrestle with consciences

There's a dust-up in the design community over this poster. The basic issue is: effective and smart way to fundraise, or despicable self-promotion?

Many designers are objecting to the guy who made the poster putting his logo and contact info on it, with no contact info for a charity. He says he is forwarding proceeds from the sale of this poster to Red Cross.

He doesn't specify but we shall assume he is keeping some money to cover the cost of business. How much? We won't ever know.

But hang on. Registered charities don't exactly advertise how much they keep either. Leaving their name off allows the viewer to consider whatever charity they like. As for signing it, I really prefer knowing who is behind a message. AND - since when did designers frown upon other designers receiving credit for their work, not to mention compensation? Haven't we been trying to get those rights through the heads of clients and students and the public?

The designer and purchaser here are also accused of indulging in "disaster porn." This is a paradox that is inherent in visual and even written communication: you can't show something and control exactly how it is to be taken. Some people will always read against the "preferred reading" (author's intent). As for the charge of exploiting a tragedy --- well, that will only hold true if he keeps more money than he'd have been paid by Red Cross if they'd commissioned the poster.

Why do we bother developing our talents if we're only going to be condemned for using them?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Alan Gowans, rogue art historian

I was excited that someone at UVic remembered and appreciated Alan Gowans enough to get this long overdue memorial together last year. He was a rogue art historian, bold enough to not only completely turn his back on the mega-powerful New York intellectuals of the 1950s (Greenberg et al), but gutsy enough to tell them what was wrong with them too. Unfortunately, few listened. Gowans rewrote art history, putting illustration at its core instead of at the periphery. But his willingness to live on the margins of North America (my hometown, Victoria) and of art theory meant that he did not really join the discourse so much as yell at it from behind a closed door. His best insights were compromised by an off-hand manner, casual writing style,  and disregard for citations. One of these days I will return to his work and put it through a rigorous analysis, as it deserves.

More nutty package design

Turkish coffee, complete with traditional Turkish coffee pot, traditional Turkish mosque, traditional-sounding Turkish-ish brand name "Barzula", and traditional Turkish Mexican.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Russian poster collection

The caption translates as "Let's Build Thoroughly!" As crappy as Soviet Russia turned out to be under Stalin, a lot of the graphics were sure marvelous. We could only dream of such empowered images of women here in North America in the 1930s.