event, lecture/discussion

Kate Moross Lecture, with a side of Wes Anderson

Went to this talk last night. Many times I'm just riddled with jealousy in going to these things because people are doing, making, saying, thinking the most interesting things. And they have others surrounding and inspiring them, collaborating.

Moross is young but ambitious. What I like most about her is her willingness to try anything, even though she may not know how to do it. She says "yes" to experimentation and has the confidence to convince others to give her a try. It's refreshing to see that.

What I've grown to loathe about the "corporate world" (in terms of graphic design) is the lack of experimentation. It's maddening to me to think that as a designer, you are supposed to have a set style and look and feel. What fun is that? I understand the importance of branding yourself and creating a nichė market, but that's not for me. I crave change and pushing boundaries and testing what you can get away with. This is the type of mentality that Moross also seems to possess, so I felt a kindred spirit with her.

At some point in her talk, Moross discusses her transition into working in film, more specifically music videos. And she said something that really rang true for me: "I never really understood why there's so much story-telling in music videos that has nothing to do with the type of music presented. To me, I try to artistically convey what the musician wants to communicate and how their music feels, visually." Now that's paraphrased of course, but I really appreciated why she said this. I often think similarly and wish that music videos just spoke for the music itself rather than distracting the audience with a story. That's not to say that there aren't beautifully successful music videos, but I think the best ones out there accurately reflect the musician's or the band's emotional response.

I mention Wes Anderson because when Moross commented on using film to visually represent rather than to tell a story, I thought of "Grand Budapest Hotel". Now, in the recent conversations I've had with friends about Anderson's latest release, we've all seemed to come to the same conclusion: the film was exquisitely shot and beautifully saturated with color, but the plot was yet to be desired. I couldn't help but wonder that if Anderson focused less on the narrative, and more about the visual, he might make an amazing music video director, or a director who works with films not containing much dialogue at all. I would love, love love to see him do this and I hope that he does.

The last point I'll acknowledge is about the final thought Moross left us with: "Don't be lazy". She said it so casually, but with a juvenile energy that could have only been spoken by someone not jaded by rejection or defeated by inhibition. Sigh. So simple, so right.


AIGA Philly Panel Discussion, Part I


Tonight, I went to a panel discussion of AIGA Philly originators, in celebration of AIGA’s centennial.

Oh god. So many feelings. Overall, I feel the mood was down. All of us are depressed about the state of our industry. How all these kids who watch a couple YouTube videos on Photoshop think they can call themselves graphic designers. How everything is template based, iStock photo generated, etc., etc. the list goes on and on. It definitely has been depressing me, I just didn’t know that others felt similarly. Misery loves company, right?

Someone in the audience did ask the question about how to distinguish ourselves as professionals in this increasingly growing population of wannabes (one member of the board commented how depressed she felt after seeing a sign in the window of FedEx advertising that they do graphic design)? The panel members talked about fundamentals, and intuitive sense, to have a good idea and how not even a computer can give you that.

There was some hope, some optimism in celebrating technology as a means to connect designers globally. How, in a design sense, different countries are becoming blurred. There’s no longer such a clear distinction of Russian, Polish, German, Brazilian, etc. graphic design. Makes me a little bit sad only because I think of it more as a cultural identity, but I can see it being beneficial in working together, bringing in strong design teams by pulling talent from across the globe.

I was really tickled about something I had mentioned to a friend of mine a couple months ago about how I thought there would be a graphic design Renaissance. By this I just mean, we’ve been so quickly bombarded by this phoney graphic design culture of ready-made templates, icons, shutterstock, etc. that I think people are hungry for real craft. For example, there’s this trend starting back of hand-painted signage. How beautiful! But there’s something real about the tangible and putting in real, honest work. I think people will demand it again, I hope and pray. But I was totally jazzed tonight because one of the panel members said just as I had said! Even down to the words, “graphic design Renaissance”. Oh god, there must be more of us out there. I really, really, really hope that happens in my lifetime.

These hands were made for craftsmanship, I tell you.

(to be continued, more eloquently when I am not so heavy with sleep)


Kara Walker

Kara Walker

Kara Walker

Tonight, I had the opportunity to see a Kara Walker piece in person at the ICA in Philly. I blushed when I saw it, remembering all the times in art history or installation classes where we were shown the PBS specials of her work.

I was especially shocked because when I heard that the ICA's guest curator was Kara Walker, I assumed it wasn't THE Kara Walker but coincidentally someone by the same name. D'oh. Although I wasn't particularly impressed with the curation of her show, I did enjoy seeing one of her own pieces there.

Also, tonight featured programming by Data Garden, which I've only been exposed to twice now, but who are doing really great things. From my limited knowledge and experience with them, I love this idea of audience engagement. And I'm not just talking about the attending audience, I'm thinking more locally, and who knows, maybe then nationally and globally. I attend a lot of arts events, and I don't know, maybe I'm going to the wrong venues, but Philly seems to be lacking that quintessential pulse that an art scene should have. It seems to me that Data Garden is trying to correct that, and thank god.

I guess to me, a lot of what's happening in art/music/all that is still set up in a traditional setting: there's the work, on its stage, and there's the viewer, observing. And I can appreciate a pretty picture just as much as anyone, but I feel like it's not quite cutting it anymore. I think people want connection now, and I think they need it more than ever with current lack of communication and integrity. Hell, that's why I even attending KAWS' opening at PAFA a few months back. His work is okay for me. But I went because I knew the scene would feel alive; there'd be a buzz in the air that keeps the damn thing going. It's just as important as the work itself.

P.S. Also was delighted about the way that the door lady placed the wristbands on everybody. I never saw anyone be more gentle and precise and with intention. What impressed me most was the way she ever-so-carefully tucked her fingers here and there to get the bands just right. And it made total sense because she had a linoleum block in progress sitting next to her. You can spot an artist who works with his/her hands anywhere. How sweet.