In search of touching one’s heart through graphic design
Publication front coverIn my memory, Toronto’s Queen Street West during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s inspired spirited walks. Working for a number of years where, at that time, a design community of book stores, design practices, art galleries, and creative education institutions had formed around the area of Spadina and Richmond Street West, Queen was an efficient and lively route to the design studio and classroom. I chose Queen as my primary route for a number of reasons. Interesting characters were found here: all-night revellers making their way home from after-hour clubs; the locals living in the abandoned textile factories along King Street; artists at work or on their way to their studios. Skateboards and bicycles were the preferred form of transportation by many along Queen. This was at a time when head shops and record stores were operating on nearly every block, when bars hosted live punk music and served cheap beer. As happens with development, the street transformed — a busier, faster, louder Queen West emerged.Interior sub-title page (left) and posted posters (right)Back then I remember the posters. The telephone poles swelled with layers of silkscreened, hand-drawn, and photocopied bills stapled into the wood. Vast amounts of material was plastered and affixed to every surface. Posters I had spotted one day would be hopelessly buried under newly-applied bills throughout the intervening hours between my next walk to work. On every journey at least one posted item would catch my attention, would have me pausing for a minute to read or scrutinize a drawing, a graphic, a typographic treatment. This early dawn and evening experience would both inspire me into a day of creativity and ease me into calming return walks home.Poster documentation and reflection (left) and essay (right)In 2001, designer Chip Kidd wrote and published The Cheese Monkeys, a story centred around a cast of first-year art and design students exploring early stages of creative education. There is a scene in the second half of the book, representing the spring semester, where an Introduction to Graphic Design course is brought into the storyline. The studio course is taught by one Professor W. Sorbeck, a teacher nobody seems to know anything about. Upon arriving to class, students are confronted by a sign, ink on notebook paper, taped to the studio door:“INTRODUCTION TO GRAPHIC DESIGNFormerly mislabelled INTRODUCTION TO COMMERCIAL ARTENTER THE CLASSROOM AT EXACTLY 2:25 P.M. — WS” The students are slightly addled, but dutifully wait until the appointed time to enter the studio. “I sighed and leaned against the wall. What a bore this was going to be, like every other class at State. At least I talked Mills into taking it. She’d liven it up. At twenty-five after, we made our listless way into 207 and found seats. A minute or two of silence. Then, from behind us: ‘That was lousy. Do it again’.”  The point, later soliloquized by an increasingly mean-spirited Professor Sorbeck, was that to be a graphic designer meant noticing details within the world around us on a 24-hour basis.Poster documentationChip Kidd’s story brings back much of what we experienced in art and design school. The intensity, the passion and power of design, and the late nights that blurred into all-nighters. The making process was fun: tentative, » Read More
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