September – December


This exhibit covered the lives and work of two graphic designers, Stefan Sagmeister and David Carson.

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The term graphic design refers to images and text. But in today’s constantly deviating society, ideologies of graphic design are broadening, transforming, exchanging, and rearranging. As technology continues an expanding global contact, we have a copious amount of tools and resources at our will. Shifting terminologies attempt to define what we once all assumed was graphic design, but can now be labeled visual communication, communication design, web design, graphic arts or one of various other definitions. To define each discipline of design is to sum up each as utilizing the computer and other tactile tools to communicate a message to a client and/or audience. Each discipline may take on the purpose of another, sharing similar processes and producing similar results, hence the current dilemma of definitive labeling. The fine line between the definition of each discipline is vague, yet definable. Fundamental elements, such as composition, asymmetrical balance, and color theory remain constant for all disciplines.

David Carson

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> His first actual contact with graphic design was made in 1980 at the University of Arizona on a two week graphics course.
> Carson had developed his signature style by the late 1980’s, using “dirty” type and non-mainstream photography, dubbing himself “the father of grunge”.
> Became the art director for Ray Gun, an alternative magazine, “The Bible of Music and Style”, which debuted in November 1992.
> You cannot not communicate. If I make this [page] totally unreadable, that’s communicating something. It’s sending a message.”
> The technology boom of the 1990’s enabled the adoption of personal computers. Easy access to design programs created opportunities for anyone to dabble in design work.
> In November 1995, Carson published his first book, with Lewis Blackwell, the End of Print – tracking his career from various art directed magazines to corporate identities.
> The early 1990’s brought a new era for Carson in which he explored deconstructive typography combined with photography-based design.
> “I never learned all the rules, all the things you’re not supposed to do, so I don’t believe the attitude, ‘learn the rules to know how to break them.’”
> The terminology of the trade has changed titles from ‘commercial and applied art’ to ‘visual communication’ and eventually ‘graphic design’.
> David Carson, as well as many other influential designers, continue to engage in rigorous and profound an investigation of alphabetic consciousness in the face of radical technological upheaval. > “Don’t mistake legibility for communication.”

Stefan Sagmeister

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> 2000 Experiments: “The realization that design is more powerful than advertising and promoting – that there must be room for something more subjective. Something more personal as well.”
> 1993: “Tibor said he’ll shut down M&Co and I was happy! Now I have three times the reason to finally fulfill my old dream and open up a design studio for CD covers. Yes!”
> 1992 Tibor Kalman: “The single most influential person in my life and my one and only design hero.”
> 1992 Sri Lanka: “Well, it’s going extremely well, I’ve quit and have everything and now everything is a O.K. I am not angry no more everything functions by itself.”
> 1984 Save The Ronacher: The aim was simple: convey the kind of cultural enrichment the Ronacher would bring as a prominent theater in the city if it were saved.
> 1978 Alphorn: The left-wing magazine was a seat-of-the-pants operation, and an invaluable learning experience for Sagmeister.
> 1987 New York: Sagmeister slipped into experiencing the culturally contrasting mix of a Fulbright-sponsored education—which included musical and A events—and a crummy apartment on the Lower-East Side, then a haven for drug dealers.
> 1962 Bregenz, Austria: In which Stefan Sagmeister is born and raised and attempts to embark on a career as an anarchist, a musician and an engineer before heeding his true vocation, graphic design.
> [Inspiration]: “One of my most frequent sources of inspiration is a newly occupied hotel room. I find it easy to work in a place far away from the studio.”
> [Punk]: Common punk viewpoints include antiauthoritarianism, a DIY ethic, non-conformity, direct action and not selling out.
> The Ramones were an American rock band often regarded as the first punk rock group and were a major influence on the punk rock movement both in the United States and Europe.
> Revulsion was the authorized social response to Jamie Reid’s graphics for the Sex Pistols. Reid demonstrated the power of graphic design in the music industry and opened the door to a strong new generation of designers.
> [CDs]: Many of Sagmeister’s contemporaries felt that music graphics had become les interesting once their old canvas, the vinyl LP cover, had shrunk to the dimensions of a CD, but Sagmeister saw the CD as a toy with which he could tantalize consumers.
> Style=Fart: The early 90s were still under the influence of post-structuralistic theories and one of the results of this was the infantile idea that text is a picture and vice versa. It took designers nearly a decade to realize that text is a picture and vice versa. It took designers nearly a decade to realize that text is text and differs from a picture in its potential to communicate


Location: 1st floor lobby
Curators: Amy Reynolds & Marissa Clausen, WOU art students