Art as communication

March 28, 2011


As we move on from graphic design to photography, I want to ask the class a few questions, questions that ask you to think about art as communication. We’ve discussed and looked at various graphic design periods or “movements,” each with its own esthetic and artistic values, giving us a context in which to ask some hard questions about graphic design at its artistic best. Here are our questions for discussion:

  • Is art better when it is in some way instructive, when we learn something from it about how people are or what the world is like? Or not? Or does it matter?
  • Does or should it matter whether art is successful as communication in the ordinary sense? In other words, in interpreting art, should we think at all about intent, about “the point” of it? I ask because for us in Laughlin, if graphic design fails to express what the speaker intended to express, that graphic design is not successful. Interpretation MUST focus on intent. What about art?
  • Perhaps art is “good” or “successful” when it stimulates or inspires or informs the lives of the people who experience it, regardless of intent, or of whether there even is intent. This puts all of the focus on the viewer. What do you think?
  • All of this is to underline for us the importance of and for graphic design to say something specific to a specific audience. It’s in the name graphic DESIGN. No accidents. Have an idea behind every pitch, hopefully a BIG idea. Your thoughts?

Deadline for your comments: 2pm, Friday, April 1 (or when class begins)

You are what you TYPE

March 8, 2011

berryland Typography — all of it — has symbolic value, a symbolic power. Most type is meant to be read, however; it is a medium, mediating communication for and to us. Type that screams, “Look at me! Look at me!” rarely is a good type choice. Readers should rarely even notice the type, like referees or umpires, instead interacting immediately with the message the type is carrying or delivering.

So, for Monday, half of the Visual Rhetoric students will do one of two typography mini-projects described below, and half will do the other. The two scenarios:

1. You are running for election for president/emperor/empress/czar of BerryLand, a fictitious wonderland of about 28,000 acres in NW Georgia. Develop or choose a typography you will use in your campaign, just as Obama chose Gotham, an exquisite typeface designed by Hoefler & Frere-Jones. Obama chose Gotham in part because it communicates change, forward thinking and openness, but it isn’t too out there; Gotham is a stable, Helvetica-like typeface with stability and gravitas. So you are choosing a typeface for your campaign based on the tone, mood and qualities you want associated with your candidacy.

Type up and submit a paragraph explaining why you chose the typeface you did, and how it symbolizes or communicates your values or qualities as a candidate. Think of key words, like “trust,” “transparency,” “stability” or “change.” Spend some time researching type sets. Include a sample of your type choice with your submission so we can see what it looks like.

2. For the other hypothetical, the other half of the class has just been put in charge of the next version of the Google Android phone, a handheld made to compete with the iPhone. You have to choose or develop a typeface for Google for the Android platform. This is type for a very small display space, therefore. Type up and submit a paragraph explaining why you chose what you did, and how the type is appropriate if not ideal for the phone’s display. Include a sample of your type choice with your submission.

Where to find type sets:

Due: Bring a printed (hard copy) version in to class Monday, March 21 (after Spring Break), for voting for “best type choice.”