Below is the notes which I typed up with Amy’s help to work out what needs to be said in the powerpoint presentation, and a gathering of all our information.
I said slide 1-3, 4-9 was Blayne, Philip didn’t seem comfortable with speaking in presentations so we gave slide 14 to say as it was only one slide and he could get all of what he had to say in one go, Andrew said slides 10-13 and Amy said slide 15-19.
Title : This is our project on David Carson versus Massimo Vignelli. They are both Graphic designers who have very different approaches to the discipline and attitudes towards typography in particular.
History and What designers do
As you can see from the slide, graphic design is available to us in a plethora of ways.
It is rather vague in terms of history, unlike other disciplines such as fashion, which are heavily documented. It is felt that by understanding the past of graphic design, it would help clarify the principle values and generate a better understanding and therefore, greater innovation within the craft. Yet, so far, the past has remained elusive, whilst the need for discovering the past is well documented.
Basically a graphic designer, aims to convey their message to their audience in a comprehensible way through visual displays that stand out.
What is graphic design?
It is there to make a distinction, for example between different companies, and it is also there to inform us, like a leaflet of instructions.
The designs are often emotive and helps to shape how we feel about the world around us.
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing the font you will use.
Text type; old style, transitional and modern, display type, Sans serif and script typefaces
Spacing – letter spacing, word spacing, line spacing
Character structure – the shape of the letters; serif, sans serif, semi serif, counter size
Leading- spacing between lines of type
Headings – do you want visually dynamic (splitting words), mastheads (attention grabbing), drop caps (draw the eye to the start)
He attended San Diego State University, graduating with honours and distinction with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.
Carson’s first contact with graphic design was in 1980 at the University of Arizona during a two week graphics course, taught by Jackson Boelts.
1982-87 he was a teacher whilst also being ranked number 9 in the world as a professional surfer.
Main influence was Hanz-Rudolf Lutz, who died in 1998. Lutz was the leader of the Expression Typographique group in Paris, at Studio Hollenstein, producing a range of graphic design. He wrote, illustrated, typeset and produced nine books about visual communication.
Massimo Vignelli was born in Milan, where he studied architecture before coming to America for three years on a fellowship, then returned to kick start the New York branch of Unimark International where he stayed until 1971 when he resigned.
Soon after he set up Vignelli Associates with his wife Lella, which had designed a wide range of products, and earned a number of awards.
He died aged 89 in New York.
Essentially, modernism is the deliberate departure from tradition and the use of innovative forms of expression that distinguish many styles in the arts and literature of the 20th century.
This was mainly due to attitudes in the late 19th century and early 20th century believing that traditional forms were no longer fit for purpose as they were outdated or simply didn’t fit with the new industrialised lifestyle.
Vignelli’s work adhering to modernism
You can see throughout Vignelli’s work that he worked tirelessly to keep his designs as straightforward as possible. There was no extravagant, excessive or abstract artistry involved.
Essentially, his work is on the better side of Carson’s view point as it is “simple and clean and powerful’ rather than “simple and clean and boring”.
His method of working earned him clients over many states of America and throughout Europe, ranging from companies wanting their packaging redesigned to interior design to book design.
Using his style and ethos, Vignelli Associates is still running strong today.
In 1967 he was tasked to redesign the American Airlines logo, so it lasted for an incredible 46 years, only changing due to a new chapter in business history for the emergence of a new plane and recovering from bankruptcy.
The design was simple and self-explanatory. That is why it was so successful.
The image to the right is the map which Vignelli and his colleges at Unimark designed.
Unfortunately the original map was abandoned after a few years due to the inaccurate representation of the above layout on New York, for example, Central Park was the wrong shape.
That was not Vignelli’s focus. His aim was to give travellers on the New York Subway a coherent reference of when and where they could change trains, not to help with the street navigation.
Eventually though, the map was revived as an online resource available to the subway users.
The Stendig Calendar
Now published every year from 1966, it is a permanent fixture in American culture. It also has two other versions, the Nava calendar requires you to turn the page everyday whilst the Wild Places calendar unfolds like a book. They work because they are simple, they provide a basic function and aren’t overloaded by unnecessary features. The typography reflects the uncomplicated nature of the calendar’s as the characters are sans serif and of such a size that no other words are necessary.
Aside from the many, many, things that Vignelli did in his life related to graphic design in a commercial manner, he also did many things to help further the education of aspiring designers through lecturing and teaching internationally, even holding a summer programme at Harvard for over a decade before his passing.
He had his work toured in Europe, been the focal point of two feature length television programmes, and was also the president of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) and the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), and a vice president of The Architectural League.
Carson isn’t fondly regarded in the graphic design community as he does not really adhere to fundamental principals as it can often be difficult to derive the message of the design. Another graphic designer who was rather infamous in the early 90 was Tibor Kalman who worked with Stefan Sagmeister and they shared the view ‘that design cannot be neutral’ but an ‘active ingredient’ – meaning it should be provocative, it should make people take notice, it should make a difference.
Carson said ‘don’t confuse legibility with communication, just because something is legible doesn’t mean it communicates’ whereas Vignelli “it’s good for everything’ as it has ‘better legibility’ in reference to Helvetica.
His friend, Jackson Boelts, helped him take the first steps into the world of graphic design. Boelts’ key work themes are landscapes, the human figure, metaphorical landscapes and the many meanings of code. Although he’s a watercolour painter, you can see his influence on Carson. His work shows that he’s not afraid to abstract and distort form to express emotions in a piece.The use of red, blue and green in the one character creates a bright, almost jarring, contrast to the black and white background of the image. The colour drips down the page from the feet and allows it to be on the same page level as the I. The type is being distorted as the character drags it’s end away by some kind of pulley, Boelts is creating a real scenario for the distortion in his image and so creates a grounding in the image that prevents it from being too strange.
His first great influence, was the teacher of the course he took in Switzerland. Hans-Rudolf Lutz experimented heavily with typography so may have influenced Carson further to take this route, as he was one of the first graphic design artists he was properly exposed to.
The words printed in white on the right hand side are set between the line of separation of the green and white space, this makes the plain text a little more interesting compositionally than if it were just on the line. The same words are repeated on the left page, running horizontally down and with slight negative leading in some parts, they’re in alternating bold and normal styles down the columns and all this makes words that would be perfectly legible in normal format increasingly difficult to read. It looks like an eye test at an optometrist’s. However, Lutz is enticing the viewer to look further into the page and to spend time figuring out what it says, thus creating interest in the brochure.
This article is a fantastic example of how controversial Carson can be. When working at Ray Gun magazine he had to read an article on the musician Bryan Ferry, which he found so boring, and so unworthy of reading that he decided to put it in zapf dingbat. (A copy of the article was printed at the back of the magazine was available in a legible font.)
The obscure typography and use of grey tones help to reflect the bland and obscure nature of the article. Most people would find the article not worth reading since they would have to search for the legible version, and the tones send out a signal of monotony and insipid.
The white text on the cover is in complete contrast to the black background which emphasises how the type is displayed. The font size varies throughout the words and letters are positioned at different heights to those in the same word. While you can still read the top sections, as you progress downwards Carson may have removed some letters as it doesn’t make sense anymore. However, the magazine title and subject of the main article, Alice In Chains, are clear which allows us to have our eye caught by the important info and for the rest of the text to be an expression of the feeling Carson may have got from the music.
This is a very complex image, it has a high contrast colour palette of both bright warm and cool colours which could have been very distracting. However, a pale yellow ties the large expanses between different colours together whilst breaking sections up and prevents a huge level of direct background contact between them, stopping the image from being too overwhelming. There are some letters in lines across the image but they’re cut through or faded out so they are nearly illegible, it prevents the viewer from getting distracted and allows to focus on the perfectly readable Quicksilver logo which is the main creation point of the poster.
He’s influenced by surf culture and his environment, the artistic culture of Southern California really shines through in his work and is hugely responsible for the style of his work that earned him the name of ‘Godfather of Grunge’.
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It became apparent that when we rehearsed the powerpoint, we had too much to say in the time frame, so we said that we would cut down the information ourselves and see what we could get in to the twenty seconds.
Unfortunately, some people found it hard to cut it down so our slides ran over and I forgot what I was saying, but overall it was alright and we got the general gist across.
I also shared the powerpoint with the other members in the class with the presenter notes available so they can get any information missed out.