The Designers’ Book Pool

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office_1_2, originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

If you have a flickr account and luv books, you may want to check out and join The Designers’ Book Pool at You may find some gems to read.

design*notes work in progress review

Jemma over at design-erly has been collecting some thoughts on my blog. What caught my attention was the reference quote that she used. “Although the element of review is not highly complex, this style of blog, a personal and reflective style actually provokes quite a high level of reflective judgement.
“They also readily admit their willingness to reevaluate the adequacy of their judgments as new data or new methodologies become available” (King & Kitchener, 2002 cited at”
A casual and personal tone allows for people to change their minds as well as to be less certain. Random thoughts allow us to write without censoring so much, the things we write don’t need the same level of certainty we feel when we write with a highly intellectual tone.”

Take a look at the rest of her post HERE.

Crumpler mini matches

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crumpler mini matches, originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

Walking around for a couple days in NYC with my new black MacBook, I started to feel that the bag I was carrying wasn’t up to the challenge. Lucky for me I found the Crumpler store. Just a couple doors down from Rice to Riches, I checked the bag store out. Of course I found the bag of my dreams, but more noteworthy was one of their giveaways that I’m now talking about. They had these really nifty mini matches. They’ve got this really cool scale to them and how can you not smile when you look at them – just like they’re bags.

A question of innovation

It’s cool that the new apple store on 5th Ave is open 24/7 365. Wow, just like Walmart. Let’s say that the newest apple thing that I want isn’t available to buy in my own city, but I could catch a flight and pick it up near central park in NYC. That is genius. But let’s take it a step further. Anyone that has bought the latest and greatest video iPod will swear about the battery life. It doesn’t last nearly long enough as it should. I like the apple brand, though I question the quality outside of the industrial design. Some of the nav. is questionable with it’s products, but hey it’s apple so I’ll let it slide.

Now I fly into NYC and figure out that it might be easier to buy a laptop then to find an internet cafe to do a bit of research. If I’m a designer my options are a bit limited. Try to find a pc or go to the Mac store and drop a bit of cash on a laptop and head to a fourbucks for some java. But let’s just pretend that there’s another option. Let’s say I bought a cheap Nintendo DS and downloaded a browser. If that were true I could serf the internet and blog for less than the cost of an iPod. No need for any laptop.

Apperntly the Nintendo DS will be able to browse the internet w/ Opera in the not so distant future. More links about it at: and and

Montreal, a “City of Design”

The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization awarded Montreal a “UNESCO City of Design”. The only other cities to have been given the award are Buenos Aires and Berlin in 2005. Quoted here “Montreal is a city where design and designers, be they involved in the fields of interior, industrial, graphic, fashion or architectural design, represent a dynamic force of cultural and economic life. According to recent statistics, design is responsible for 20,356 jobs in Montreal’s metropolitan area and economic spin-offs of more than $750 million. Also, 65.3% of Quebec workers involved in the field of design live in the metropolitan area. Montreal is the only North American city to have established, as early as 1991, a bureau dedicated exclusively to the development and promotion of design. Important achievements are owed to this bureau, including the Commerce Design Montreal competition, which has contributed to the rise of Montreal as a city of design.”

You can read the entire press release at

Via Peggy Cady

Asclepius and Caduceus Explained

Randy over at his Spin Technologies blog has broken down the difference between the two commonly used medical symbols Asclepius and Caduceus. In his post Asclepius vs Caduceus we find out that the more appropriate symbol is Asclepius. “According to greek mythology, Asclepius was the demigod of medicine and healing. Caduceus is considered the symbol of commerce.”

What is garbage?


This was a response to a post from a couple days ago. J’s response deserves as much space as the original. Thanks J.

“You know, Karim Rashid is a total wanker. The words are his but the idea isn’t and I wonder if he really actually Gets It.

The Garbo trash can Rashid designed in 1995 was his first big contribution to making our lives better. If Rashid were a rock star, the Garbo would have gone platinum. Rashid says somewhere between four and six million trash cans were sold.

It boils my blood when someone like Rashid makes these grand sweeping statements (vaguely implying a sense of ethics or morality) about the industry they contribute to when they have such a wasteful claim to fame. And for a writer to say that the Garbo trash can is a contribution to “making our lives better” is a total farce.

Imagine shaping human behaviour so that rather than buying between four and six million trash cans, essentially for the purpose of filling with garbage, we were inspired to recycle four to six million garbo trash cans worth of plastic instead.”

Love/Hate About Graphic Designers

5. What’s better, working with a good timeline with people you hate, or a tough deadline with people you believe in?

4. Is a graphics designer really that much different from a graphic designer?

3. Sometimes you have to break the idea that if “I learned it that way in design school”, that you can’t look the other way and break that rule sometimes.

2. Yes, Apple is as much a multinational as Nike. Get over it.

1. Are we really early adopters? How many people are still using Quark and are asking what the point of blogs are?

The battle of the blogging platforms


Here’s an interesting comparison with wordpress and blogger. I dropped my design*notes url into the website as graphs website at This is what the colour coding means:

blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags

I’ve found wordpress to be a lot easier to use and navigate, and the diagrams represent that.

Welcome to design*notes

It’s true, I’m taking design*notes to a new weblog publisher. The biggest change in the upcoming weeks will be the addition of the categories search being well defined.

UPDATE: It will be a couple weeks before all past blog entries have been logged into the Categories section…

UPDATE 2: It seems that there’s some issues with people commenting. I’ll be looking into the problem…

the Unboxing Ceremony

iPod 60GB, In-Ear Headphones, A/V Cable, with packaging
Originally uploaded by JoshB.

Imagine designing something so well that others feel the need to capture the experience and share it on flickr. There’s a photo pool that does just that:

There’s also a blog dedicated to people talking about they’re experiences at via core77

Issues around designing services

If you’re wanting something to listen to about design today, there’s a number of podcast’s from speakers that attended the International Service Design Conference. The first two links are password protected, but most of the others are available to listen to at Some of the guests included IDEO, the Design Council, Philips Design, Wolff Olins and a number of others.

What is Graphic Design

On May 5th, the following defintion was approved at the National GDC AGM. Researched and written by Walter Jungkind and Yves Rousell, the folowing definition improves on the previous wording by the GDC “Graphic designers are visual problem solvers. They enjoy the challenge of working with clients and resource people to produce effective visual communication.” I suspect that there may be amendments next year to the definitions, perhaps even a name change. While it is a good start I do take issue with the last line “clients usually determine project aims” below. If designers are to be seen more than for the pure visual, the designer needs to be part of the brief and work with the client to determine the scope of the project.

Graphic Design
involves effective visualization of communication concepts, primarily in print and electronic media (including interface design), in the context of business and technology, socio-political, cultural and educational environments, in transmitting government and institutional aims and services, and in visually explaining and exploring medical and scientific data and processes. Clients usually determine project aims.

Graphic designers
help to achieve communication goals by analyzing, structuring, planning and creating images and text to enhance visual communication for specific purposes. They often act as consultants.

Alternative version to the above

Graphic designers
help to achieve communication goals via analysis and interpretation of client needs. They plan, structure and communicate information and ideas, appeal to emotions or facilitate orientation, by creating or combining images and test for distribution to specific publics. Efficiency and high esthetic standards are hallmarks of work by professional designers, who frequently act as consultants on design strategy. Consideration of the public good is a bonus.

Virtual Key System

I seem to be on a digital kick these days. Between the wifi shoes and umbrellas to this RFID idea – I’m finding the interaction between objects and visible action to be worth exploring. The above images are for a Key Transponder: Transport and Responder for Opening the Door. Here’s how they explain the virtual key and RFID tag: “RFID Tag is built inside the key-shaped product, and the reader has the same key-shaped hollow. When you let your key-tag touch this hollow, the visit will be told to the real key holder.“

On the iconic side of things, here’s a good example of an object that has been transformed by technology, yet the shape of the object is defined by it’s past. You can read more info about the key transponder HERE.

Learning by Design


Debbie Millman, a friend and someone who I admire has posted one of her best blog posts about what she has learned. There’s 10 graceful points that most designers can take something away from her experience, learn and get better. About a year ago Debbie visited Edmonton for a talk titled “Design Stories from New York” for the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada Alberta North Chapter. We filmed the talk and you can watch the entire presentation at While Debbie’s 10 points from her blog entry are not mentioned directly in the video as such, a lot of her ideas are talked about in part 3 of the video presentation.

Below are the ten headers of Debbie’s points, to read the whole thing visit here blog HERE.

Things I have learned by making a lot of mistakes

Number One:
Fabulous talent is equivalent to operational excellence

Number Two:
How you lead and what you represent is as important as your ideas

Number Three:
You need to know what you believe in, whether or not it is popular.

Number Four:
Vision is easy, strategy is much harder.

Number Five:
Know what you are talking about

Number Six:
Common vocabulary is not always equate with common behavior

Number Seven:
One day working on a creative brief is worth (minimally) one week of design time.

Number Eight:
Be aware of “artificial harmony”

Number Nine:
Seek out criticism

Number Ten:
Design Matters

Happy World Graphics Day

27 April marks the birth of Icograda (International Council of Graphic Design Associations) in 1963. It is celebrated by graphic designers, communication designers, industrial designers and design associations around the world. Today is the 43rd birthday of Icograda.

Graphic design has become one of the most influential professions in the world. It shapes the daily lives of people everywhere.

World Graphics Day is an opportunity to recognise graphic design, and its role in the world, and to celebrate the birthday of Icograda.

On this occasion, designers reflect and hope that our global network can contribute to greater understanding between people and can help to build bridges where divides and inequities exist.

At the Icograda Secretariat in Montreal, they’ll be marking the day with the launch of the ‘Call for Expressions of Interest’ for the IDA (International Design Alliance) World Design Report pilot project.


Warm greetings,

Sue Colberg, MVA, MGDC
GDC National
Icograda Representative

iPod Patent

I’m trying to not make it a habit of posting something on apple every couple days, but… Above is an image that I’m assuming is part of the patent process for apple. If it’s real, the next iPod could be pretty interesting. It also changes the interface game with new possibilites. Scrolling menues could change a lot. See more of these images at

and here’s some pretty cool video examples

Letter to lululemon athletica

Below is a letter that was sent to lululemon athletica. You can read the history leading up to this letter at lululemon athletica graphic design b.s. contest. and UPDATE: lululemon athletica graphic design b.s. contest.

Chip Wilson, Owner/CEO
Dawn Peck, PR Director

See attached document originating from your offices and disseminated via the Graphic Designers of Canada listserv on Monday, November 14, 2005.

Dear Chip and Dawn,

As an independent group of graphic designers from across Canada, we are writing in regard to your decision to hold what can only be perceived to be a cattle-call to mine the creative energies of the graphic design community of Vancouver and beyond. We propose a comparison for you. We are interested in knowing how you feel your legal team, who are currently in BC Supreme Court (in your own words) “protecting the Lululemon designs and trade marks” would respond to an email such as the one attached – contextually reworded (with tongue firmly in cheek) from the attached email received Novemeber 14?

We send this to make a point that you seem to be under the impression that design is a hobby and that compensation for its product is a bonus rather than a necessity. Graphic designers pay taxes, pay mortgages, pay for staff, support families and must pay for everything you pay for, with the fees they earn from their work. We send you this parody in the hope that it will illustrate that this is not the very best course of action and, at best, has raised a number of eyebrows in the graphic design community and, at worst, done widespread and permanent damage to Lululemon’s credibility in their eyes – the very eyes you depend on for your future design and creative innovation. We would argue that design and innovation are pivotal in the success of Lululemon, as they are in every successful venture.

We hope that you can see that this is not the way to respect our talents and abilities, and in the future, we trust you to judge us on our prior achievements and creations, and pay fairly for our creativity, which is the currency of our profession.


Casey Hrynkow, B.Des, MGDC
Ray Hrynkow, MGDC
Christina Peressini, Creative Director, Disegnostudio
Marga Lopez Orozco
Blair Cox
Paul Maher, MGDC
Louise Timmerman
Matt Warburton, FGDC
Jeffrey D. Smith, BFA, RGD, MGDC
Mark McAllister, Provisional RGD
Judd Cochrane
Jennifer Romita MGDC
R.N. Strong
Michael Surtees BDes, MGDC, GDC ABN President
Bruce Cochrane, AOCA, MGDC
Jamie Lees D’Angelo
Ryan Mayer, MGDC
Sandra Friesen, RGD
Craig Medwyduk
Brent Flink, MGDC
Gonzalo Alatorre
Lornce Lisowski
Chris Lawson
Jessica Reid, GDC Student Member
Jean-Sébastien Dussault
Richelle Letendre
Laurie Darrah MGDC
Simon Troop MGDC
Carol Hyland MGDC
Rupi Kambo
Kris McKinnon
Scott Laurie
Brenda Sanderson, MGDC
Brad Hardie, MGDC
Jon Whipple, MGDC
Grace Chan, BFA, MGDC
Karen Owens, Art Director, Pravda Design
Keith Martin MGDC
Winston Pei, BA, MA, MGDC
Lisa Hemingway, B.Des., GDC Graduate Member
Sarah Semark
Lorna Williams
Don Eglinski, LGDC



Calling all barristers, solicitors and lawyers to be. Here’s your chance to expand your resume and make your mark on the lululemon line of legal documents. We are looking for both contract and agreement submissions for all of the following items:

1. Supplier contracts
2. Employee agreements
3. Liability contracts
4. Litigation initiation
5. Salary negotiation
6. Vendor agreements

Each document should focus on the following:

– Combining legalese with everyday yuppie language

– Include our logo and name. This can be subtly ingrained in the documents’ fine print

– Justifying the 800% markup on our Olympic sponsored products for yoga, circus, tai chi, pilates and cross training to offset future lawsuits

– For vendor agreements, focus on dismissing the validity of their profession by grouping amateurs and professionals together to maximize the balance of cost vs services – preferably to as close to zero as possible. (i.e. pit a professional against a grade school student and mine their ideas for free.)

Your work will be evaluated on the following criteria:

1. Simplicity – is not overly difficult to steal and call our own

2. The document has to be shown on an actual piece of paper so we can see placement and size of the paragraphs in relation to the paper (being lawyers, we felt it necessary to point this out)

3. Use of verbage or a combination of legal techniques. If we use your document you will receive a $200 cash reward in addition to having your work come to life on a lululemon contract.

All entries must be submitted by December 1, 2005 to Community Relations at the SSC

UPDATE: lululemon athletica graphic design b.s. contest

Yesterday I posted about the lululemon athletica graphic design b.s. contest. There seems to be different interpretations about the meaning of the contest from lululemon athletica. A couple designers shared their e-mail responses they got from lululemon athletica on the GDC listserv. As always, if there’s any other interesting e-mails, I’ll pass them along.

Hi Blair,

Thank you for your feedback. For this graphic design contest, we wish to show recognition and celebrate the designer and the design through the finished product itself. We place high value on good design for the design itself and hope to encourage potential participants who share our enthusiasm for creativity not entirely by monetary means.

We hope you can understand that it is never our intention to undermine the graphic design industry but rather we just want to embrace the joy of creation!

Best Regards,
lululemon customer education centre
toll-free: 1.877.263.9300

180 – 2955 Hebb St.
Vancouver, BC
V5M 4X6
direct: 604.215.9300
fax: 604.215.9366

“Elevating the world from ordinary to a place of greatness”


Brenda and Cameron, thanks to both of you for your feedback on our contest. We have clearly mis-communicated our intentions and fortunately you have pointed out our errors.

My intention is to hire a permanent graphic designer, the job is posted on our web site As you both know there are often hidden talents right under your nose that need to be discovered. This contest was designed to do just that.

We hope we can find someone internally who is interested and has the skill set or may have a friend interested. This was meant to be primarily internal and not a general public contest. What we would never not want to do is offend the graphic/fashion design community or for that matter any other profession. Nor we would want to violate the professional practise guidelines or other organizations. We have a wonderfully talented creative agency in Cowie and Fox and use them for much of our creative work. We also contract out design services and maintain long standing relationships with several artists whom we use regularly. We would never intend to insult them, their profession and their peers.

Thanks again for bringing this to our attention.

Eric Petersen

UPDATE: Letter sent to lululemon athletica

lululemon athletica graphic design b.s. contest

It’s amazing that a company like lululemon athletica that seems so dedicated to well being and design style would abuse designers with a cattle call design contest. The following information below has been sent to some Canadian designers and has picked up some traction on the GDC listserv. If there is any news that follows, I will post the info…

Calling all designers and graphic designers to be. Here’s your chance to expand your portfolio and make your mark on the lululemon line. We are looking for both design and graphic submissions on all of the following

1. Men’s t-shirt
2. Men’s long sleeve design for fall
3. Women’s t-shirt
4. Fabric pattern for a women’s tank top
5. Fabric pattern for men’s shorts
6. Christmas gift box

Each design should focus on the following:
– Combining art with athletics
– Including our logo and name. This can be subtly ingrained in the artwork
– Products for yoga, circus, tai chi, pilates and cross training for the Olympics
– For men’s wear, focus on the post metrosexual. (i.e. an athletic man who is in touch with his emotions.)

Your artwork will be evaluated on the following criteria:
1. Simplicity – is not overly costly to produce
2. The graphic has to be shown on an actual outlined garment so we can see placement and size of the graphic in relation to the garment
3. Use of color, new techniques or a combination of techniques(embroidery, stitching, goop, screening, sewing)

If we use your design you will receive a $200.00 cash reward in addition tohaving your design come to life on a lululemon product.

All entries must be submitted by December 1, 2005 to Community Relations at the SSC, attention: Jaclyn Josephson.

Jaclyn Josephson
lululemon athletica
community relations coordinator
604.732.6124 ext. 244

There’s been an update about this post at

Letter sent to lululemon athletica

DesignMaven Revea!ed (Part Two)

This is the conclusion of the interview with the DesignMaven. Read part one HERE

MS: Who influences you?
DM: Outside of my Family Saul Bass and Paul Rand were instrumental, there were others.

I was born and bread on the Westport School. That was my vision and dream of what a successful Artist, Illustrator and Designer should be. The Westport School was a movement of Artist and Illustrators whom lived and worked in Westport Connecticut. They dominated the Illustration Style and Thinking of their era. Norman Rockwell, Austin Briggs, Albert Dorne, Steven Dohanos, Al Parker, Robert Fawcett, Jon Whitcomb, Doris Lee, Fred Ludekins, Peter Helck, Dong Kingman, Bernie Fuchs, Bob Peak, They wrote the Famous Artist Course, A Home Study Course. I never enrolled in the course. Nevertheless, all were very successful Artist and Illustrators.

The only Designer among them was a gentleman named George Guisti. Actually, the very first Designer I latched onto because he used the Airbrush. He was quite successful. Receiving the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, Lifetime Achievement Award.

When I saw, Graphis 59, a collector’s edition, you can find it on eBay selling for over $100.00 dollars. There’s a portfolio of George Guisti’s work. Then there’s a portfolio of work by this young and promising Designer, named Saul Bass, no comparison. “I said George who”. The range of Saul Bass’ Design at that time was Magnificent in all it’s Glory. The range was unbelievable, Identity Design, Packaging, Film, Movie Advertising, Exhibits, Product Design. George Giusti whom I loved as child, range of work was not in the same league as Saul Bass. Mr. Giusti was a Designer that Illustrated he worked mainly for publications. Designing covers and posters. His son Robert Giusti became a successful Illustrator achieving fame. I don’t think Robert became as famous as his father did. Both, Bass and Giusti gave me what I needed.

I was already heavily into Saul Bass by this time. That issue of Graphis Magazine further solidified Saul Bass’ Genius.

Other influences were Designers, Illustrators, and Fine Artist such as, Alberto Vargas. George Petty, Adolphe Mouron Cassandra, Jean Carlu, Abram Games, Joseph Binder, Otis Shepard, German Designer Tony Zepf. The list also includes Painter, Ernst Haas. The list included Super Realist, Chuck Close, Audrey Flack, Don Eddy, John Salt, and Richard Estes. Illustrators, Charles White III, Dave Williardson, Hajime Sorayama, Doug Johnson, Phillip Castle, Thomas Blackshear, Alan Aldridge, and Robert Grossman, Fantasy Illustrators, HR Geiger, Syd Mead, Frank Frazetta (others). I never got into Fantasy Art. All of these Luminaries incorporated Airbrush into their work. Most used airbrush 100% of the time. I was heavily into airbrush. I’d been using airbrush since I was fourteen. I was introduced to airbrush by my teacher Mr. Carleton T. Washburn.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention African Americans, Georg Olden, Reynold Ruffins, and Archie Boston. Georg Olden was the First African American Director of Graphic Arts CBS Television, 1943. As well, Georg was Designer of the CBS Eye Identity with his boss William Golden. Reynold Ruffins is founder of Push Pin with Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast. Archie Boston is an Advertising Phenomenon and Luminary. He created a lot of ground breaking work.

Perhaps the most important and influential person that has had a profound effect on my work and me is George Lewis aka Roif A Love. He was a senior at Chamberlain Vocational High. Without question the most gifted Artist, Illustrator and Designer I’ve ever encountered in my life. George was so gifted, our teacher Mr. Washburn let he do whatever he wanted. George never did any jobs out of the assignment book. Each week he worked on a different painting he was commissioned. At eighteen, his technical facility was on a level he could block in a painting with a paintbrush and no pencil outline. Make the painting or portrait look as if it were breathing or coming to life. George at eighteen was as gifted as Vermeer, Rubens, Close, and Estes. Its funny, he was a realist, I wanted to be a realist. We saw each other periodically. And I was instrumental in bringing him to the University I attended. Later on the advice of my sculpture instructor Bill Taylor he enrolled at Corcoran School of Art in D.C. We hadn’t seen each other in about three or four years maybe longer. When we talked. He had changed his style. And was influenced by the Bauhaus, Kandinsky and Klee. It was surreal, because I was telling him. I was heavily into the Bauhaus, Herbert Bayer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Xanti Schwinshy. We just fell out crying laughing at how much in tune to one another we were in reference to our career influences. As well, the natural progression and evolution. We had known each other since High School. Few years later I learned that George Lewis passed. Dying of Cancer. Survived by his wife and son. My life hasn’t been the same. I carry the torch for both George Lewis and my teacher Mr. Washburn.

The movement, which had the most profound impact on my life, was the BAUHAUS. The Bauhaus gave me a new vision sense of purpose and direction. Responsible for opening Conceptual Doors. I didn’t know this was possible. The merging of Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Art, and Architecture with Business and Technology. Without boundaries. It wasn’t being practiced in the United States. Maybe it was, but wasn’t old enough to see what was happening. I have my typography instructor Mr. Ramkisoon, bka Ram and my painting instructor Yvonne P. Carter to thank for introducing me to the Bauhaus. That movement changed my life forever. The Bauhaus led me to other movements, Dada, Russian Constructivism, DeStijl, and Swiss Design. And most important, these movements led me to American Modern.

The rest is History.

MS: What type of education do you believe designer needs, and how did your education open the design world to you?
DM: That’s a loaded question. The best education for a Designer is Hands on Experience meaning, an Apprenticeship with a Designer, Firm or Consultancy. That’s the Best Training and Experience anyone involved in the Creative Arts can get.

Not to Blast Formal Training I’ll get to that later in the interview. Apprenticeships allow you to get Practical Real World Experience. There’s no better exposure for the Designer, Artist or Illustrator. Art & Design Schools try to simulate that experience in the classroom. It’s not the same.

The drawback of the classroom, if your instructor doesn’t have any practical experience in the real world. Then you’re studying with a professional student. That has only advanced them with a Degree. The flip side, the problems or assignments are not real in the classroom. They may be practical on some level. You don’t get the tug of war, feedback, and resistance you get with real clients. In the classroom, you don’t write a proposal for the project.

You don’t give a presentation, and you don’t do any market research. Nor do you deal with outside venders, such as printers, sample departments, paper suppliers, etc. You don’t multi task. These are all things you encounter on the job in real world situations. Rarely, if at all in school, is your contributions part of team effort or collaboration. In order to be successful on the job, you have to learn to play nice in the Sandbox with others.

At the same time, four (4) years of Design School Education is equivalent to 2 Days on the job.

Most important, Design & Art Schools have their advantages. Nothing can beat the Creative Atmosphere and everyone feeding off each other. The open competitiveness, the camaraderie, friendships and associations can last a lifetime. With Design School the unwritten rule is each one teach one. That’s what makes school so great. The instructor can only set up guidelines and parameters. It is the healthy exchange among peers that facilitate personal growth and development. As well, harvesting and fostering a sense of purpose, direction, community and culture you cannot get this on a job. You have to already be there at a mental state in you life.

I talk to students all the time that are seniors ready to graduate and have not been placed in an Internship Program. It should be mandatory. If you don’t get that practical experience you have nothing to offer a prospect employer. Design is an occupation upon entering; you must HIT THE GROUND RUNNING.
General Graphic Design Education must be coupled with Business Classes and Public Speaking Classes. In this new Millennium Designers will become more Independent and less reliant on staff positions. Designers must have a clear sense of Business Acumen. Simple task such as Organization and Time Management Skills cannot be learned in Design Class. The Designer must be able to sell him/herself. There’s nothing like Public Speaking or Drama Classes to knock down those barriers. The only way to learn it is taking business classes or being in that arena.

The extra year or two spent in school will be in the capacity of on the job training. Internship offers the prospect Designer employment opportunity in various venues. Design Education may have to be extended to five or six years. With those credits going toward the Masters Degree.

The Education of a Corporate Identity Designer is demanding. Long story short. Corporate Identity is a Grand Father Profession. Meaning the positions are inherited through lineage or generations of Designers. Corporate Identity is the Pinnacle of Visual Communication. Yet, there is not a Degree Granted for Identity Designers or Identity Consultants. Why? Salary wise, the average Identity Designer or Identity Consultant earns well over $ 100.000.00 dollars per year.

There should be a curriculum leading to a Degree.

Identity Designers and Consultants need a curriculum that address Design, Marketing, Communications and Trademark Law. This curriculum should be supplemented with Business Management Classes, and Public Speaking. Most important, Semiotics, the language of symbols and signs should be included in the curriculum. This will possibly be a five to six year program as well leading to a Masters and PHD. Because of the Scientific Nature of Corporate Identity on the Marketing side more time will be needed for research and analysis. Perhaps a Bar will be necessary or exam similar to the CPA Exam. This will insure Corporate Leaders Identity Consultants are qualified. Time spent in post secondary education will equal time spent by Medical Practitioner’s. Education accomplishment for Identity Designers and Consultants will justify their salary.

In reference to my Design Education, I’m very largely self taught. Yes, I have a Degree in Design. The school I graduated cannot take credit for my Accomplishment, Knowledge and Design Acumen. I’ll explain.
My mother enrolled me in a Professional Advertising Art Program at Chamberlain Vocational High School in Washington D.C.

At age fourteen, (14) I studied under Mr. Carleton T. Washburn, renowned Fine Artist, Illustrator, and Advertising Artist a protégé of Norman Rockwell. Mr. Washburn taught Advertising Art at Chamberlain Vocational School for thirty-eight (38) years. The program was highly regarded. With a 99.9% success rate of graduates entering the Profession of Design, Advertising, and lllustration straight out of High School. Going to Chamberlain Vocational School and studying under Mr. Washburn was akin to going to the Allegemeine Gewerbueschule aka (Basle School of Design). Acknowledge as the Worlds Best. Education wise the American Equivalent would be Art Center, Rhode Island School of Design, Cranbrook, and School of Visual Arts or Cooper Union. I site Cooper Union because they don’t offer a Graduate Degree in Graphic Design. Once you graduate from Cooper Union with an undergraduate Degree. You’re ready for the world. Graduating from Mr. Washburn’s Advertising Art Program you did not need College Training. College or University training was an option if you needed to further your career academically.

Mr. Washburn was renowned and acknowledged by Professionals, Industry Leaders, Institutions, and All Creative Job Market sectors across the United States. Mr. Washburn was renowned for getting students jobs. Working Professionals and Students made a Pilgrimage to his classroom. At least Mr. Washburn taught 89% of the Decision-Makers and Art Directors in the Washington Metropolitan Area.

Upon entering his class, there was a big chart with jobs he got students straight out of High School at Advertising Agencies, Production Houses, Art Studios, Design Firms, Design Consultancies, Walt Disney, Local Television Stations, Warner Bros., Department Stores, Publishing Houses, Fortune 500 Corporations. The list was endless, growing and intimidating. Nothing was fabricated. Students would come back to visit him and ask his advice. Request a portfolio review.

Drop in to say hello. After teaching from 7:30 am – 3:00 pm Mr. Washburn for thirty-eight (38) years taught an adult education class in advertising art, five days a week. Which began at four in the afternoon and ended at 8:00 pm. His adult education class was reserved for working professionals. It was standing room only.

The only program that comes close to Mr. Washburn’s Advertising Art Program is Leon Friend Program at Lincoln High in New York. Both, I’ve been informed were more advanced than most college programs, at that time.

If you’re not familiar with the History of Lincoln High in New York and Leon Friend. Seymour Chwast, Gene Federico, Bill Taubin, Alex Steinweiss, Irving Penn, Jay Maisel and many other luminaries were all taught by Leon Friend at Lincoln High.

The 1970 Chamberlain Yearbook state, The course in Advertising Art is designed to equip the student to meet the exacting demands of the modern world. They are trained in perspective, lettering, and the basic principles of layout, type anatomy, graphic arts, color and its significance in advertising. Students learn the many different techniques such as airbrush, pen and ink, watercolor, tempera, and scratchboard. Students must be thoroughly familiar with the use of overlays and various types of color separation as well as a working knowledge of reproduction and printing techniques. The student must know the many different kinds of advertising media such as direct mail, poster, newspaper, magazine, and visual aids. They must understand how to work with photographs, cropping, and retouching them for advertising purposes.

Mr. Washburn Developed an Advertising Art Program based on his Professional Experience. It consisted of one hundred jobs (as we called them) or assignments to be completed over a course of three years. If you completed the course of 100 jobs you received $ 100.00 dollars worth of Art Supplies. Only one person completed all 100 jobs in thirty-eight (38) years. It was an astronomical amount of work. The way the program was set up. School began at 7:30 am, which included tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders. Since I was in the 10th grade, our advertising art class began at 7:30 after roll call and pledge of allegiance. And ended at 12:00 pm with an hour for lunch. After lunch we went to Math, English, Science, Physical Education. It was mandatory that you participated in the Military Cadet Program. The only way you did not was to have a medical excuse. We came back to Mr. Washburn for Theory, Critique and Figure Drawing. On more than one occasion we were told how lucky we were to get North Light. When he designed the Program 38 years ago. He was adamant Artist and Illustrators needed North Light. Which is why Artist, Illustrators and Designers build their studios in their homes. North Light is reserved for the studio. The defining characteristic of North Light is its quality. It’s big, soft, and diffused. Since it’s coming from the north, it catches the direct sunlight and bounces it off the sky. Mr. Washburn explained how the florescent lighting, design of windows in the classroom. And trees destroyed North Light.

The program was Designed so that we spent at least five and one half (5 1/2) hours a day in Advertising Art with the rest of the time divided between the other classes on alternate days of the week. Critique, everyone participated on all levels. Mr. Washburn made it clear that what he was doing was revolutionary. Even at the college level. The teacher critiqued Work and students did not participate in critiques. They just paid attention and listened. He was absolutely correct. Talking to other Designers and Illustrators informed at that time only the instructor-critiqued work on the college level. Nice to be apart of something ground breaking because we critiqued each other’s work. This was back in 1970 at the High School level. We worked from a job book to begin conceptualizing and generating ideas you went to the Morgue. A term that still frightens me until this day for those not familiar with the term. The Morgue, is traditionally an Artist or Illustrators term for Dead Picture File. We had hundreds of thousands of photographs, illustrations, magazines, packaging and designs to assist in facilitating our conceptual process.

The job book was simply a notebook full of briefs. It read like this, Advertisement for Tire Manufacturer. Ad should depict the tire manufacturer is selling. Your choice of Illustration technique to make ad interesting. Headline copy should be 14pt type. Headline copy should read. Goodyear Tires Always Dependable. Body copy should be 9pt only indicate. Tire can be rendered in India ink, lamp black wash, or airbrush, your choice. Rendered on 15 x 20 Illustration Board, hot pressed. The assignment gave you the amount of time expected of you to complete the project. As jobs progressed they became more difficult. Skills overlapped to increase your knowledge and understanding as well proficiency with tools of the trade.

Other assignments were similar in scope, except the illustration called for the use of all the instruments we were taught to use.

Ruling Pen, Crow Quill Pen, Speedball lettering pens, Tempera Paint, Gouache, Watercolor, Sable Brushes, Zip-a-tone for effect. We did everything by hand. We were not allowed to use neither press type nor a projector. All lettering was commenced by hand. We chose a type specimen book selected a typeface and drew it by hand. And filled in the outlines with ink using a crow quill pen, ruling pen, sable brush or cut frisket and filled in with airbrush. Frisket in those days was masking tape. We were not allowed to use Rapidiograph pens. The juniors and seniors were allowed to use rapidiographs. We did everything with a Triangle, T square, and French curves. We sat at our drawing tables with drawing boards and Newsprint for tracing paper to transfer our drawings to Illustration Board. The upper class would joke with us because they could use Blue Pencil for layout and drawing. At the time, that was the rage of the industry. We all said to one another next year we would be using Blue Pencil for Illustration and Layout. It was something to look forward. They also informed us the industry was no longer drawing type by hand and were using press type for headlines or lettering machines. It was like telling a child there was no Santa Claus. We rebelled among ourselves. Calling the program outdated and outmoded. We didn’t know any better. It was all about Discipline and Perfecting Craft. That was the Best time of my life there were many, many gifted and talented people in that class. It was simply the Best training I ever had in my life. Nothing will ever come close to that experience. The Coupe d’etat, I learned three (3) years of course room instruction in one year. I sat at the third desk on the right of the classroom. Near the middle, there was not anyone behind me, except an empty desk. The two front desks were the areas Mr. Washburn used for theory class. Theory dealt with principles and rules of procedure in advertising and graphic arts. All aspects of the printing business, and graphic arts were explained. When the juniors had theory, I stopped what I was working on and listened intently. Same with seniors learning theory it was like I was an upperclassman because I was sitting among them.

Learning as they learned. Technically, I knew as much about the business as the seniors. Whenever theory class being taught I was sitting with the upper-classmen learning as they learned. Some would come to me and ask if I remembered some aspect of the lecture. I did and imparted the information. That’s when I began to absorb information and become obsessed with knowledge.

Later that year, Mr. Washburn wife passed. He retired from teaching at Chamberlain Vocational School at the end of the year.

I was the last student to see him. I helped him pack and move his belongings. We talked and in my own metaphysical way. I told him I would stay the course. And keep his name alive as one of the students he nurtured and benefited from his teachings. The next year I transferred enrolled in public school. At that time, I was so advanced with Mr. Washburn’s teaching. My High School teacher Rose Auld did not know what to do with me. She was extremely beautiful and a gifted artist. She had just graduated from college. Rose came from a lineage of artist and musicians her mother was Georgia Mills Jessup, a renowned African American Artists. Ms. Auld tried to simulate what Mr. Washburn did. It wasn’t the same. Because, I was in Art Class for one hour three days out of the week. At Chamberlain, I was in Advertising Art for five and one half (5 1/2) hours a day no comparison. Nevertheless, Rose had high hopes for my dreams and aspirations of becoming a Professional Designer.

At the college level I wasn’t challenged enough in my Advertising Design Program. I longed for those days with Mr. Washburn. One of my advertising instructors asked me about my prior education coming to college. I informed him I studied with Mr. Carleton T. Washburn Chamberlain Vocational School. Walter Lattimore informed me he knew Mr. Washburn, and taught some of his students. Explained how problematic the students were. Because they would correct him in the classroom and inform him “that wasn’t the way Mr. Washburn taught us”. Mr. Lattimore, said he finally went to Chamberlain to meet this Mr. Washburn. He was amazed and overwhelmed and in disbelief at the level of proficiency of the program. As well the level of achievement of his students he looked me in the eye and said, “if you studied with Mr. Washburn I image you’re pretty much bored here’. ‘I said you’re correct’.

Yvonne Carter, my painting instructor informed; if I wanted to be a Better Designer I should study Sculpture. Didn’t understand it then, I absolutely understand it now. Sculpture or 3 Dimensional Design gave me a better understanding of form and the principles and elements of Design. I almost majored in Sculpture. Until my Sculpture Instructor Bill Taylor informed me if I took the Senior Class for my Degree, he would have to fail me. I brought that up to him recently when we embraced at a restaurant. He iterated, “boy you haven’t changed, you still telling everybody that same lie”. I couldn’t do anything but laugh. We exchanged pleasantries had dinner and talked about old times.

On so many different levels, I carry the flame for Mr. Washburn. His professionalism, drive, determination, dedication, spirit, selflessness, business acumen, superior skill and capability lives within me as if it were an internal flame, that will never die. Certainly his archives of Design Ephemera influenced me at an early age to collect.

Only two of us continued down the righteous path of Creativity Mr. Washburn laid out for us James Ridley and myself. Last I heard James was in living in California and quite successful practicing Design. We both grew up in the same neighborhood and went to the same junior high.

My long-winded sermon in reference to my education is to pay homage to the only REAL instruction I had in Applied Arts.

I owe it all the Mr. Washburn, my junior high school art teacher Ms. Bodie, encouraging my mother to place me in the program. Most important, my mother for having the foresight to facilitate my aspirations and dreams.

Down side, I didn’t benefit from Mr. Washburn’s connection in the job market. Not to worry, I’m not doing to shabby as an Independent Identity Consultant. It’s certainly a Badge of Honor for me to have known, been in the presence and educated by such a Great and Giving Man. His teaching will live within me for as long as I’m alive.

MS: Did you have a mentor? What did you gain from the experience?
DM: In the traditional sense of having a mentor, no.

There are two types of mentors. The first, being someone on the job taking interest in you. Facilitating you by guiding your career and showing you the ropes of the profession. Assisting with employment situations by giving advice and referrals. As well, introducing you to his/her inner circle of friends.

The second is in Professional Organizations or Educational Environments where you foster friendships, and camaraderie. Which lead to networking forming alliances, exchange of information. Cultivating advice, referrals and instant gratification due to the inner circle of Professional Organizations or Educational Environment.

Within Education usually your instructor is responsible for opening doors and knocking down barriers. Depending how connected he or she is.

As an Adult, I’ve met a few people I bounce things off. Namely, Mr. Robert W. Taylor my good friend, former Saul Bass Associate and Mr. Thomas Ruzicka, former Design Manager of Bell Telephone System and AT&T 1968 -1984. I feel I can talk to them about anything. I’ve never asked them for anything. Maybe I have, I’m always begging for more Bass, artifacts for my archives. What I get from them money cannot buy. What I get from them is a sense of brotherhood and mutual respect. Robert W. Taylor being in his sixties and Mr. Ruzicka being in his eighties.

Their combined ages exceed a century. Without question a wealth of knowledge.

They’ve seen it all, and they’ve done it all. It’s good to have that repartee.

Others are Mr. John Harrod founder and Executive Director of Market Five Gallery in D.C. Mr. Harrod has been a benefactor in more ways than one George Lewis, aka Roif A Love, now deceased, personal friend. Senior Classmate in Mr. Washburn’s Class.

The most gifted Designer, Artist, Illustrator; I’ve encountered on earth in this lifetime. Bar None.

Come to think of it. Yeah, I’ve had some Mentors in more ways than one. The aforementioned friends were always in my corner. Available whenever I needed them.

What magazines do you read?
DM: Are you Serious?

Read Design Magazines. I look at the pictures. The purpose of becoming a Designer or Artist is that you can go four (4) years through College or Design and Art School and never have to pick up a book. That’s the reason for embarking a Design Degree. Design and Art Classes are the only curriculum on earth where you don’t have to read a book to earn a Degree. That my change with my revelation. On many levels very true.

I peruse Magazines today. I’m endeared to Idea Magazine Japan. It’s simply unmatched by any current publication or in History. Idea Magazine has been number one over forty (40) years. Equal to Idea was Design Quarterly published by the Walker Art Center and Industrial Design Magazine.

When in bookstores, I peruse the usual suspects, ID, Graphis, Print, Communication Arts, Eye, Step, How (others).

Depending on Content and Feature Articles, likely to purchase any one of them.

I’m saddened and disappointed, Rudy Vanderlans is no longer continuing Émigré.

Baseline Magazine is Great. I always look for it quarterly a great European Typographic Magazine. Simply the best and unmatched by any Typographic Magazine ever. (Bar None)

Occasionally, I’ll purchase Gebrauchsgraphik on eBay. The oldest Design Publication continues to circulate. Sold under the name Novum.

Being a man of fifty (50) with considerable KNOWLEDGE WEALTH and TASTE I am more refined and inclined to read Design Publications from MIT PRESS I’ve amassed and impressive number of Prominent Historical Significant Design Periodical Collections throughout the years. Now need another storage facility for the collections I have amassed.

The only magazines I have a subscription to are Graphic Design USA and Brand Packaging and Package Design. These are complimentary because I’m in the Design Profession.

MS: What’s on your ipod?
DM: Surf Music, Dick Dale and the Dell Tones, The Ventures, The Sufaris, The Lively Ones. I can listen to Surf Rider and Miserlo all day and night.

Nelson Riddle, Route 66, and various other discographphy’s.

Astrud Gilberto, The Girl from Ipanema, various other discography’s.

Common, The Corner, and various other discography’s.

Kanye West, Jesus Walks; Diamonds are Forever, various other discography’s.

Mobb Deep Shook Ones, various other discography’s.

Francis Albert, Strangers in the Night, My Way. Luck be a lady tonight, My kind of town, It was a very good year,

The Flamingos, I only have eyes for you, various other discography’s.

Pookie Hudson & the Spaniels, Goodnight Sweetheart, various other discography’s.

Latest Projects?
DM: A couple of packaging projects can’t say much about them because of confidentially.

At least three Retail Identity Projects two within the Washington Metropolitan Area.

The other is out of town. Scope of each Project is from concept to rollout to include, Identity, Interiors, Packaging, and Evironments.

If time allows, self-publishing. Of course the subject matter will be Corporate Identity.

MS: Any Famous Last Words or a Personal Credo?
DM: “I must Create a System of my Own
Or be Enslaved by another Man’s
I will not Reason and Compare
My Business is to Create”

William Blake


Read part one HERE

DesignMaven Revea!ed (Part One)

There are very few that can claim such a distinctive online writing style and knowledge base as DesignMaven. I’ve always been a fan of what he has to say, whether on Speak Up or Design Observer. There’s a serious passion when he posts. I’ve been fortunate to share e-mail conversations with him over the last couple of years and have admired his energy. As I take time to reflect on my own design drive, I thought I could learn a thing or two from the man himself. That is why I was honored when he accepted my invitation for an interview. I hope you get as much from reading this as I did from talking with him.

Part two of the interview can be read HERE

Michael Surtees: Who is DesignMaven, how did he come to be?

DesignMaven: DesignMaven is the alter ego of Frank Briggs. He’s a mythological character he’s the Anti Hero. He takes on many guises.

Such as, The Marksman, Dorian Gray, The Alpha Male. When I write Design Commentary I represent all these personalities. Most notably, The Marksman for his astute acumen in Identity Design Commentary. I’ve never made an online appearance as the Marksman.

The Marksman. Is generally, used for my e-mail correspondence. Marksman can be misinterpreted and over some peoples head. I chose a Universally understood Moniker.

In literature and film an anti-hero is a central or supporting character that has some of the personality flaws and ultimate fortune traditionally assigned to villains but nonetheless also have enough heroic qualities or intentions to gain the sympathy of readers or viewers. However, through the course of events, as we get to know the character, they grow and change and may actually become popular. A well-known example of this Clint Eastwood in his early film work. Films such as A Fistful of Dollars, The Good Bad and The Ugly, For a Few Dollars More.

How did I come to be?
DesignMaven, is a descendant of the Sacred Mountain, Olympus. Summoned to Earth by his Father Zeus, GOD of Corporate Identity, Branding, Film, Titles, 3 Dimensional Design, Product Design, Retail Identity and Environmental Design. To be the Guardian of Identity Design and Design History. To provide mere mortals with Wisdom and Encouragement. However, he cannot participate nor alter and change the course of Identity Design and Design History on Earth with his Capability and Knowledge. Most important, DesignMaven is unemployable by First Tier Consultancies and Corporations. His participation in Identity Design and Design History on Earth is in the capacity of Good Will Ambassador. To personally participate will alter the course of History.

MS: Do you remember a time when you weren’t passionate about design? Was there a single event that changed your outlook to be so interested in design.

DM: Not really, I’ve encountered Design Burnout. I’ve been drawing and painting from a child. Since I was five (5) years old. I’ve always wanted to be an Illustrator. By the time I was actually able to practice Illustration and support myself. The industry changed. Do to stock Illustration.

And publications using more photography. Illustrators were suffering in the 1980s. I evolved into Design. Which I think is a natural progression. Quite comfortable doing both.

MS:Having had “design burnout”, how did you get past it?

DM: There was about a four (4) year period I did not work in Design. Do to technological advances in the field. Coupled with lack of interest. Although, I worked on the early Macintosh Computers. I was an Independent Designer. A friend, Emory Diggs was the manager at a local copy center and gave me Carte Blanche on their equipment and color xerox machines for about five years. He’s the only person that can get anything he need from me in reference to Design other than my immediate family, without paying my fee. I’m indebted to him. True Friend. How can you not be loyal to someone like that? During this era employers were demanding that you acquired the knowledge and skill of the digital era. I fought it as long as I could. Actually, thought some segment of the Design Industry would be the lone voice of tradition and reason.

It didn’t happen. Many Designers embraced the new technology. While others did not. I was, The Last of the Mohicans to embrace the new technology. Eventually bought a computer. Once I bought a computer, I never looked back. It’s totally different owning your own computer, opposed to using someone else. Although, I was not working as a Designer. I still had my hand in it.

People were always asking me to Design. I would say, “I don’t own a computer. If I create by hand, it’s going to cost more. If I give the job to someone that has a computer, it’s going to cost just as much. And their work will not be up to up to my standards”. Three things led me to purchasing a computer. Access to typography. Control over the Development and Ideation of my Design, and Production Control. Albeit, a former classmate who moved up the ranks to become a Design Manager in Government. Informed me he no longer worked in Design. He was transferred to Photography. Wanted to get back into Design after several years and could not. Because he did not own a computer and did not understood how to use software. A Lifetime friend, Gregory Scott, Designer, Artist, Image Consultant to Luther Vandross, (now deceased) and Patti Labelle, others encouraged me to purchase a computer. Listening to Tony Brown of Tony Brown’s Journal iterating on every show. Every home should have a computer. After six months of listening to Tony Brown and reflecting on other experiences Prudence and Better Judgment Won the Battle.
I love tradition. There’s no way, I can live without my computer!!!!!!!!!

MS: What’s your design archive like? What’s in there, is there one single piece that you prize above all others?

DM: My Design Archives is an Infinite Knowledge Base and more profound than the Internet. Allowing me to expound on any topic of Visual Communication. If that sounds evasive Michael, it’s meant to be.

I’ll expound; there’s some information the Internet cannot provide. If you ask the Internet to provide you with Corporate Identities from the 1970s it doesn’t have that capability.

If there was a discussion about 1970s Identities I have that information in my archives. If you ask the Internet to show you Corporate Identity Consultancy Capability Brochures from First Tier Identity Consultancies it doesn’t have that capability. That information is within my Design Archives, as well. If you did a search on the Internet for work produced by Legendary Identity Designer G. Dean Smith. It cannot provide you with information or samples of G. Dean Smith’s work. I have that information within my archives.

I possess a few trinkets. My archives would’ve been astronomical if Herb Yager Saul Bass’ Partner sold me his Saul Bass Archives. There were only certain items that I could afford. Herb savvy business man that he is. Really didn’t want to break up his archives and sell pieces of it. Thus, Herb felt for the betterment of mankind. His Saul Bass Archives should be remanded to the custody of a Museum and not a private collector. Herb’s got the Rock of Gibraltar in reference to his archives.

Things I’m most proud of are the complete set of Saul Bass and Associates, Bell Telephone System, Identity Manuals. Other than the Bass Family, I’m the only person on earth that has them. Thanks, to my mentor and Good Friends Robert W. Taylor, former Design Associate of Saul Bass, & Associates whom brokered the deal with Mr. Thomas Ruzicka former Design Manager of Bell System and AT&T. Of course Herb Yager gave me his blessing allowing me to posses them.

Personal artifacts given to me by Paul Rand. Now, I wish I possessed a Paul Rand Identity Manual. I’m working on it.
Walter Landor, in 1993 when he was ill sent me one of two copies Landor had in existence of his book Walter Landor Associates, Idea Special Issue, 1977. I’m quite sure, I’m the only person from my generation with this publication. It is rare and a collectors item.

There are others, I don’t want to bore you with my trinkets.

MS: How has design changed from when you started to the present period?

DM: I began in 1970 as an apprentice to an Illustrator, when I was fourteen (14) years old.

Everything was done by hand. Except camera production. At the time there were many specialist in Design. In my day, there was specialist. Beginning with production people layout artist, comp artist, airbrush artist, illustrators, photographers, typographers, and art directors.

You did not become a Designer until you graduated to layout artist or art director. Often times, that did not happen. Depending where you worked. Typographers were first and foremost considered Designers. In some circles you were not considered a Designer unless you were a Designer of books or periodicals.

Today, the Designer is the END ALL IS ALL. Because of the computer, he/she has many responsibilities and is responsible for every aspect of conceptualization to finish art. Often times act as typographer, production designer, photographer, illustrator, etc. Today in-house departments have been remarkably reduced in size.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the computer revolution in the early 1980s changed the game forever. Those that didn’t adapt fell by the wayside. The personal computer ended a lot of careers that were not susceptible to change and a new way of working. Once the Design Industry embraced the change. It was essentially adapt or die. If there was a period that I was dismayed with the profession, it was this era. I didn’t purchase or own a computer until 1999. I’m sure, I’m one of the last Designers from my generation to embrace the change.

MS: What’s your definition of design?

DM: Design is an Intellectual Activity with a craft aspect to it’.

“Design” = Development, A Plan, Purpose, or Intent initiated via Ideation, Orchestration, Delegation and Collaboration for Compensation.

“Craft” = Execution + Rendering = Production.
Designers almost always need others to bring their Ideas to Fruition. Because of time constraints Designers need not be involved in the Craft aspect of their business.

That being said, Design is a Lifestyle. And all encompassing of our daily lives. As humans we could not survive without Design. Design is as important to our survival as Food and Nourishment for our bodies.

How do you define a successful design? First and foremost Design must Communicate and satisfy the client needs. Successful Design has to understand the role it plays in its market, target audience, core values, consumer base and need. At the same time, reward the receiver by making them feel something. Touching and/or tapping into the Visceral and Cerebral sub-consciousness. There are many ways to accomplish this. It can be brought into fruition with typography, imagery, color, and semiotics. With the Internet and television all the aforementioned to include movement, animation, and music.
A combination of those elements is imperative for visual impact.

MS: Outside of design you seem extremely knowledgeable in PUNK and NEW WAVE, (read Dare I ask if you have a jazz collection? What makes something interesting to you?

DM:I listen to many forms of music. Appreciate all genres. Began listening to Jimi Hendrix when I was eleven years old.
I was raised in Church and grew up on Gospel music. Rhythm and Blues was always being played in my neighborhood if not in my home. Coming from that religious up bringing I almost straddle the fence of not being able to listen to secular music. The first music I owned was Ray Charles. My mother gave my brother and me two albums to share by Ray Charles. That was my introduction to owning records. The first album I ever purchased was Jimi Hendrix, ‘Are you Experienced’. Proceeded by Led Zeppelin, ‘Houses of the Holly’ and Pink Floyd, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’.

I bought both of those together. I was approximately, fourteen or fifteen years old.

Growing up there was an assortment of music being played and I was introduced. Examples, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Curtis Mayfield, Billy Stewart, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Joe Tex, Little Anthony and the Imperials, The Five Stair Steps, The Delfonics, Otis Redding, Sam Cook. On the flip side, you had the British Invasion, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Hollies, The Zombies, The Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, Lulu, The Merseybeats, Peter Noone, Eric Burdon, The Yardbirds, The Moody Blues, (Others).

Before the aforementioned genres were Blues, Classical, Country, Doo Whoop, (Street Corner Symphony).

I listened to all those genres of music some more than others. Jazz was a natural progression. Beginning with Eubie Blake, Alberta Hunter, Pops Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Mel Torme, Billie Holliday, Abby Lincoln, Philly Joe Jones, Sun Ra, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson, Francis Albert. (Many others) Names to numerous to mention.

MS: Is it important to have design heroes, and if so, why?

DM: Most important, I think is a need to be aware of Design History. Meaning the events and practitioners whom shaped and advanced our Profession. What you take away from that experience and exposure to enhance your life to benefit your career can be most rewarding.

Certain Illustrators and Designers I identify with are family members to me. I lived with them all my life. Their work was in my home.

Example, my mother collected Top Value Stamps. On each issue of Top Value Stamp Magazine was a commissioned painting by Norman Rockwell. As a young child, I lived with that imagery. And as an aspiring young Illustrator, how could I not identify with Norman Rockwell’s skill and draftsmanship. Also in my home was a poster of the second N.Y. Film Festival, Philharmonic Hall Lincoln Center Designed by Saul Bass. As an avid reader of magazines, should I say, at my young age, perused magazines.
There were the Westinghouse Advertisements by Paul Rand in Look Magazine. The Saturday Evening Post, and Colliers, with Illustrations by Austin Briggs, my all time Favorite Illustrator, (many others).

Designers that I Glorify are as much a part of my family as biological family members. I’ve lived with them all my life. They had a profound effect on my life at an early age. I really had no Idea they were Rich, Famous, and Successful, until I became an adult.
When, I became an adult. The Designers that I like and worshiped were used as a measuring stick for my personal growth and development. During my pre-teen and young adult years, Norman Rockwell and Austin Briggs were important because I was trying to achieve their skill level and technical facility. Not emulate their style. Trying to achieve their level of proficiency in composition and rendering skill.

That level of achievement is impossible to achieve at an early age. With Saul Bass and Paul Rand they were used as role models because of their extraordinary range and capability. From them I learned Design has neither boundaries nor limitations. The process of discovery and problem solving are the same for all disciplines of Design. Only the production or craft aspect changes.

I got as much of their work as I could acquire. Used their work as a measuring stick for my own personal growth and development. Again, not to emulate their styles. Began investigating what made their work Great and Acknowledged by the Industry and their Peers.

As I got older my interest shift to Identity Design. I was reading symbols and in love with symbols from a tiny tot. My favorites were the Chevrolet Cross, Texaco, Seaboard Coastline, John Deere, Dixie, Bell System, Hunt Wesson, Westinghouse, IBM, abc, CBS, ESSO, Sinclair Oil. Armstrong Floors, The Man from Uncle, The Saint, James Bond, (others).

Semiotics, has always been an important aspect of my growth and development as a Designer, from a child. Again, Saul Bass and Paul Rand’s work were in my home. Either we possessed Design Ephemera or the work appeared in publications. Its not like I went to school and everybody was into Saul Bass or Paul Rand. We had Art History Classes and the instructor discussed the merit of the Artist contribution to Fine Art. There were no Design History Classes when I was in school. Dare I say, any of my college instructors were aware of Design Luminaries? If they were, they didn’t talk about them. It’s not like I read an article on the aforementioned luminaries and became infatuated with their success or work. I’m not that shallow. Meaning, I don’t gravitate to people because of success or fame. Which I think is a bigger sin, to be infatuated with someone one year and when they fall out of fashion move onto the next Design Flash in the Pan Cult Figure. Suffice to say a lot of these people are being forced fed via certain vehicles such as publications and conferences. Many of these people never live up to their press or Cult Hero Status. I’ve yet to be impressed with any of these Cult Hero, so called Celebrity Designers this younger generation of Designers find so impressive. It’s definitely hard for me to buy into their cult like status. Because people love them when they’re hot and move onto the next American Idol or Poster Boy when they fall from grace.

I’ve always enjoyed self-discovery. I vehemently don’t like being FORCED FED something that I know via personal research and self-development is not true. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. I pick my own Heroes. I don’t allow other people or any publishing vehicles to tell me whom I should like. Who’s hot and who’s not. Genuine success in any industry comes from Longevity. The Designers that are hot today, will they be relevant twenty years from now? I think not. The Designers that I admire and glorify stood the test of time for fifty (50) years or more. Today is just as important maybe more when they were alive. Look at the shamble Corporate Identity is in!

I’ve had the same favorite basketball, football, and baseball teams since I was a teenager. I continue to love them and support them until this day, win or loose. My point of contention, I’m not a fair weather fan or bandwagon jumper. Referencing people who support teams because they win. Or become infatuated with Designers because they become popular or cult figures. All the Designers that I enjoy and embrace except Michael Bierut and Paula Scher are from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Designers after those eras, I generally don’t have an interest Exceptions are made for personal friends and Female Designers who I enjoy and respect their work. Such as, Elinor Selame, the First Lady of Corporate Identity in America, Rose Marie Tissi, the Greatest Female Designer Practicing today. (Bar None) Margaret Youngblood has created more Identity Design than any man has in the 21 Century thus far. Margaret is no longer employed at Landor. Connie Birdsal, with Lippincott & Margulies has been in the forefront of Identity Practice over twenty years. Anne Reeves; partners with her husband Mamoru Shimokochi. There are other females Designers of note to numerous to mention.

I’m endeared to Identity Designers first and foremost male or female. Identity Design is my expertise. Heroes are exceptionally beneficial for personal growth and development. Design Heroes are no different than Heroes for other professions such as Athletics, Music, Business, etc. The kid or young adult that dreams of becoming the next Dr. J, or Michael Jordan, Yo Yo Ma, Al Dimeola. Bill Gates, Bob Johnson, Hillary Clinton, or Barbara Walters can fulfill their dream healthily with someone to pattern themselves.
Essentially, inspiration, aspiration, determination and dedication should be the core values governing ones personal vision. Design Heroes can’t hurt you. Heroes can become catalysts to achieve your dream. What’s the lesser of two evils an imaginary friend or Design Hero? I’ve never had an imaginary friend.

My Heroes, I lived with them all my life.

End of Part One
Part two of the interview can be read HERE

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