Saturday, July 29, 2017

ARH 346 Syllabus (still under construction)


Instructor: Alfredo Triff Ph.D.
Textbook: Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide, by Johanna Drucker and Emily McVarish.

ARH 346 is an introductory survey of Graphic Design from its origins to the present day. In addition, I’d like to emphasize 20th Century and early 21st Century developments in the field.


At the end of the semester, the student is supposed to be acquainted with the main trends and & styles of graphic design. We investigate the cultural and socio-political contexts of the discipline.

Course content and grades:

1- Two exams: A midterm (30%) and a final (30%); each test has a written and a visual component. 2- There is a weekly 150-word comment assignment for each of my weekly posts. Comments must show a bit of research and the ability to discuss novelty on the topic at hand. Generally, I will close the comment-window of our blog 6 days after posting. Post comments amount to 25% of the final grade. Attendance and participation are 15% of the final grade.
3- I ask you to refrain from using your personal laptops during my lectures. We don't need more audio-visual overload on top of my image-ladened lectures.

Schedule of classes

Introduction: Evolutionary foundations of communication, language and design, early graphic forms, communicating ideas and beliefs, the invention of proto-writing.

Chapter 1: Early Writing: Mark-making, Notation Systems, and Scripts 3000—500 BC
Mark-making, notation, varieties of early writing, the spread of writing as idea and script, the alphabet, literate culture.

Chapter 2: Classical Literacy 700 bce—400 ce
Variations of literacy and the alphabet, the function of graphic codes, models of writing: gestural and constructed, writing at the end of the Classical age.

Chapter 3: Medieval Letterforms and Book Formats 400—1450
Medieval culture and graphic communication, graphic media and contexts, the codex book letterforms, manuscript hands, and pattern books; Graphic forms of knowledge, publishing communities and graphic arts.

Chapter 4: Renaissance Design: Standardization and Modularization in Print 1450—1660
Early print design, graphic communication in Renaissance culture, print technology and type design, graphic forms of knowledge.

Chapter 5: Modern Typography and the Creation of the Public Sphere 1660—1800
Printed matter and the public sphere, news books, broadsheets, and newspapers, politics and the press, graphic arts and design, modern type design. On the edge of industrialization

Chapter 6: The Graphic Effects of Industrial Production 1800—1850
Industrialization and visual culture, illustrated papers, book design for mass production, printing images, advertising design and typography, fine art and graphic art; critical issues

Chapter 7: Mass Mediation 1850—1900s
Printed mass media, changes in print technology, changing patterns in the use of graphic media, media networks, graphic design and advertising, posters and public space.

Chapter 8: Formations of the Modern Movement 1880s—1910s
Responses to industrialism, Arts and Crafts publications, Arts and Crafts dissemination, Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Viennese design, Decadence and Aestheticism, the private press movement and modern design, integration of design and industry.

Chapter 9: Innovation and Persuasion 1910—1930
Visual culture and avant-garde design, the graphic impact of Futurism and Dada, from experiment to principles, propaganda and mass communication studies, graphic persuasion and its effects, institutionalizing graphic design.

Chapter 10: The Culture of Consumption 1920s—1930s
Designing the modern lifestyle, modern style in graphic design, consumer culture, the profession.

Chapter 11: Public Interest Campaigns and Information Design 1930s—1950s
Public interest and education, photojournalism and documentary, wartime propaganda, wartime information, commercial and technical uses of information design, information analysis and design process.

Chapter 12: Corporate Identities and International Style 1950s—1970s
Image and identity systems, International style: Style, systems, and graphic design concepts; technology, the profession.

Chapter 13: Pop and Protest 1960s—1970s
Pop culture and style, self-conscious graphic design, slick surfaces and high production values, counterculture and the alternative press, revolutionary culture and protest, changes in the profession, critical vocabulary.

Chapter 14: Postmodernism in Design 1970s—1980s and Beyond
Postmodern styles, postmodern consumption and conservatism, critical theory and postmodern sensibility, postmodernism and activism.

Chapter 15: Digital Design After the 1970s
Digital technology: from punch cards and plotters to desktop computing, Media transitions: type design and publications: Fluidity and functionality. The myth of immateriality and challenges of digital design.

Today's Graphic Design

Ad Busters
Majid Abassi
Chris Dixon
Dave Eggers
Experimental Jetset (Amsterdam)
Sarah Fanelli
Isidro Ferrer (Spain)
Field Study
Lizzie Finn (London)
Tom Gauld (London)
Julia Hasting (NY)
Yuri Gutilov (Moscow)
Fons Hickmann (Berlin/Vienna)
Kim Hirthøy (Oslo)
Keiko Hirano (Tokyo)
Inkahoots (Brisbane, Australia)
Siobhan Keaney (London)
Ji Lee (NY)
Ken-Tsai Lee (Taipei)
Anette Lenz (Paris)
Kei Matsushita (Tokyo)
Ung Vai Meng (Macao, China)
Mooren & van der Velden (Amsterdam) Torturers of modern design
Peter Moser (Switzerland) Design as Theater

Final Exam Prep



Additional Bibliography:

David Abrams, The Spell of the Sensuous, NY Pantheon Books, 1996; Rudolph Arnheim, Visual Thinking. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1969; Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space. Boston, Beacon Press, 1969; Kevin Barnhurst, Seeing the Newspaper. NY Harper and Row, 1972; John Berger, Ways of Seeing, NY Penguin Books, 1972; Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Tyopographic Style. Point Roberts, WA Hartley & Marks, 1992; Anne Carson, Eros, the Bittersweet, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1986; Sebastian Carter, Twentieth Century Type Designers, NY, Taplinger, 1987; Florian Coulmas, The Writing Systems of the World, Cambridge, MA Blackwell, 1991; Guy Davenport, The Geography of the Imagination. San Francisco, North Point, 1981; Guy Davenport, The Hunter Gracchus, Washingoton, DC, Counterpoint, 1996; Donis A Dondis, A Primer of Visual Literacy. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 1973; Geoffrey Dowding, The Finer Points in the Spacing and Arranging of Type, Vancouver, Hartley & Marks, 1995; Magdalena Droste, Bauhaus, Berlin, Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1990; Johanna Drucker, A Century of Artists Books, NY, Granary Books, 1995;Johanna Drucker, The Alphabetic Labyrinth: Letters in History and Imagination, NY Thames & Hudson, 1995; Harry Duncan, Doors of Perception; Essays in Book Typography, Austin, W. Thomas Taylor, 1987; Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, 2 vols; NY, Cambridge Univ Press, 1979; Dan Friedman, Radical Modernism, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1994; Albertine Gaur, A History of Writing. NY, Cross River Press, 1992; Jost Hochuli, Designing Books, practice and theory, London, Hyphen, 1996; Lewis Hyde, The Gift, Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, NY, Vintage Books, 1983; Richard Hendel, On Book Design, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1998; Ivan Illich and Barry Sanders, ABC: The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind. North Point, 1988; Gerald Janecek, The Look of Russian Literature: Avant-garde Visual Experiments, 1900-30, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1984; Willi Kunz, Typography: Macro and Micro Aesthetics, New York, Willi Kunz Books, 2000; Ellen Lupton, Graphic Design In the Mechanical Age, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1998; Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics; The Invisible Art. Northampton, MA, Kitchen sink Press, 1993; Ruari McLean, Jan Tschichold, Typographer, Boston, Godine, 1975; Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy. Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1962; Douglas McMurtrie, The Book: The Story of Printing and Bookmaking, NY, Dorset Press, 1971; Paul Messaris, Visual Literacy: Image, Mind & Reality. Boulder, CO Westview Press, 1994; Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, NY Vintage Books, 1992; Fred Smeijers, Counterpunch, Making Type in the 16th Century, designing Typfaces Now, London, Hyphen 1996; Buzz Spector, The Book Maker’s Desire: Writings on the Art of the Book. Pasadena, Umbrella Editions, 1995.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


Banksy is a household name in England—the Evening Standard has mentioned him thirty-eight times in the past six months—but his identity is a subject of febrile speculation. This much is certain: around 1993, his graffiti began appearing on trains and walls around Bristol; by 2001, his blocky spray-painted signature had cropped up all over the United Kingdom, eliciting both civic hand-wringing and comparisons to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Vienna, San Francisco, Barcelona, and Paris followed, along with forays into pranksterism and more traditional painting, but Banksy has never shed the graffitist’s habit of operating under a handle. His anonymity is said to be born of a desire—understandable enough for a “quality vandal,” as he likes to be called—to elude the police. 

BANKSY aesthetics:

1- be subversive,
2- be invisible,
3- be omniscient,
4- be accessible,
5- be humorous.

Gabriel Martínez Meave: to find yourself go back to typeface

Gabriel Martínez Meave is a self-taught graphic and typographic designer, illustrator, calligrapher, educator and author. 

He is the founder of Kimera, a studio in Mexico City. 

 Martínez Meave is consider a master calligrapher.

Adbusters (the power of anti-design)

Adbusters Media Foundation (called Adbusters or the Media Foundation) is a not-for-profit, anti-consumerist organization founded in 1989 by Kalle Lasn and Bill Schmalz in Canada. 

They describe themselves as "a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age." 

The foundation publishes Adbusters, a 120,000-circulation, reader-supported activist magazine, devoted to numerous political and social causes, many of which are anti-consumerist in nature. 

the message?

1- be subversive,
2- use the message against the message,
3- fight the system within the system.

The art of Andrey Logvin

Russian artist Andrey Logvin became known in the late 1990's for his witty, bright, energetic posters. In 1996 he received the gold medal at the International poster Biennal in Warsaw, Poland.  

International Design from New York, featured him as a master pushing the boundaries of the profession (the first Russian designer to be so honored).

Logvin tries to break through to the general public. Despite of the bad rap for political posters as a form of propaganda,

Logvin message?

1- be green!
2- speak to the masses, no the elite,
3- be honest with your message.

Christoph Niemann

Christoph Niemann is an illustrator, animator, and graphic designer whose work has appeared on the covers of The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, and Business Week. He lives in Brooklyn with his family. 

Niemann's philosophy:

1- come up with fresh solutions to old problems,
2- reinvent yourself,
3- be witty,
4- the more out there the better!

Strange Attractors (design is environment)

Based in The Hague, the Netherlands, the international design firm Strange Attractors was founded five years ago by Ryan Pescatore Frisk and Catelijne van Middelkoop. Their work reflects a keen interest in the intertwining of culture, media, context, experience and history. While they take a highly experimental approach to each of their wide-ranging design projects, their custom designed type and typography are hallmarks of their work. Through lectures and workshops they encourage designers and design students to see, value, and reinvent the vernacular around them—rather than capitulating to a generic globalist design approach.

Winners of numerous awards, Ryan Pescatore Frisk's and Catelijne van Middelkoop's work was recognized by I.D. Magazine's ID Forty 2006. Their clients have included FSI Fontshop International, Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo Lab, Studio Dumbar, and Museum Boijmans.

Flamingo Studio, Tokyo (bad-is-good design)

Flamingo Studio is a powerhouse led by Teruhiko Yumura, who pioneered the heta-huma, which translates as bad-good. It doesn't mean so bad it's good, but rather refers to the use of "bad" art.

Michael Punchman

Michael Punchman (Hong Kong), tries to erase the boundary between art and design. He has designed NO PEACE NO BOOM a series of colorful, polished, garish, fiberglass sculptures.

"BOOM" according to Punchman is not the explosive sound of destruction, but the rich reward for making a difference -a call for action!

Iman Raad

Iman Raad fell in love with Arabic script while teaching a typography class at Cooper Union in NY. Raad's work comes from typography, calligraphy, pottery, weaving, talismans, religious flags, and posters. "I try to explore the language of myths in the contemporary world" he says.

Brian Chippendale (design is NOISE)

Brian Chippendale is a new post-post modernist hybrid between music and art. His work embodies a kind of visual/noise aesthetics, influenced by punk, trash & DIY philosophy. The visuals feed on the music and viceversa. Check out the other Chippendale profile here and here. His Ninja and Maggot series (the former took five years in the making) have developed a cult following. 

Chippendale video's here.

Deanne Cheuk's mushroom graphics

Deanne Cheuk is the kind of artist that does not see a barrier between design and illustration or illustration and art. As illustrator, designer, art designer and artist, she fluently mixes watercolor, oils, pen, pencil and thread (as well as software, of course). Cheuk, born in Australia and currently residing in New York was labeled one of 34 “Young Guns” under the age of 30 by The Art Directors Club NY, one of “20 under 30” by Print Magazine and one of “The best people of 2004” by Time Magazine. She is a contributor to Nippon Vogue, and Dazed & Confused magazine. Her work has been commissioned by numerous magazines including Nylon, BlackBook, The Fader, Flaunt and The New York Times Magazine, She has art directed and designed numerous magazines including Tokion

Arem Duplessis

Duplessis takes from fine art, diagrams in old psychology, and sharks (yes, he's an avid scuba diver) as inspiration. 

1- use innovative typography, 
2- use scale, space and rhythm,
3- to convey complexity use pun and metaphor
4- make your design easy to digest. 

Duplessis is currently the Art Director of The New York Times Magazine. He has held design-director and art-director positions at various titles, including Spin, GQ and Blaze magazines. He has received over 300 awards from organizations like the Society of Publication Designers, where he most recently won both the "Members Choice Award" for best magazine and the prestigious "Magazine of the Year Award" for work done at The New York Times Magazine. More on Duplessis here