MFA ComDes NYC: Day 1

What an action packed day the MFA ComDes students had! By far the busiest day of the five day adventure, the students had four appointments across Brooklyn and Chelsea, meeting with James Victore, Jessica Hische, Mirko Ilić, and Milton Glaser.  An insightful day was had by all, ending on a particularly magical note with Milton Glaser.

James Victore

Artist and graphic designer  James Victore was the first appointment in Brooklyn. Loud and proud, Victore took the students on a tour of his small studio in Brooklyn, in addition to a tour of his work, showcasing his posters, books, even dummies of his books.

Notable takeaways:

  • Make design with “a barb,” or design that has attitude, soul, and “sauce.” Design that has a point of view and a strong voice.
  • “Everything 2 degrees off normal drives people nuts.” Do it anyway.
  • His enjoys, and seeks, a strong reaction from his work. He means to incite argument and discussion.
  • Have a 15 year plan. Start it now. Where will you be 15 years from and what will you sacrifice to get there? It can mean sacrificing marriage, relationships, even having children.
  • Make this sacrifice worth it by having incredible work. Do not seek money; seek to create great work.
  • Victore is not interested in hiding his hand–he style is rooted in creating by hand, including collages, painting, and hand-lettering.
  • You can’t define design.
  • The design world needs more “individual giants,” people who have sauce, opinions, and “barbed” design.

Victore

 

Jessica Hische

The students hopped across Brooklyn for a tour and chat with illustrator and letterer Jessica Hische. She gave the students a sneak-peek at some recent prints and discussed what it’s like working with clients.

Notable takeaways:

  • Jessica is still growing, despite having achieved so much acclaim so early on in her career. To keep growing, she took type classes at Cooper Union where she began working on a couple typefaces.
  • However, typography and lettering are vastly different. Typography takes immense skill, knowledge, and patience; creating a typeface can take years. Lettering also takes skill, but the knowledge and patience is less than that of typography.
  • She is a letterer and illustrator first, before a designer.
  • Lately she has turned to quick turn-around projects that are web oriented. She believes it is very, very useful for a designer to know code. As an illustrator, she is use to, and prefers, these short turn-around projects.
  • Her Daily Drop Cap series has become an excellent way to showcase her work to clients, who then use it to describe what they are looking for.
  • She challenges herself to create new letterforms and compositions. She resists returning to her “greatest hits,” or her previous work.
  • And, everyone should learn letterpress and eat a lot of pork (maybe not, but these are two good things!).

 

 

Mirko Ilic

Mirko Ilić is a prolific Yugoslavian graphic designer and illustrator now based in New York City. He began designing posters and book jackets, and has since moving to New York City in 1985, has co-authored multiple books and keeps a lively blog at Imprint Magazine. His studio is right above Milton Glaser’s studio!

Notable takeaways:

  • Know your design history. His book The Anatomy of Design is basically a way to cheat to get students to read design history. Know who fought for you.
  • Design is impossible to define. It is different for everyone.
  • On the difference between art and design, he explains one is clean and shiny (design) while the other is dirty and more physical (art). He flip flops between the two to stay fresh.

 

Milton Glaser

What an honor. Milton Glaser needs neither an  introduction nor an explanation as to why his presence was magical. Clearly a student of life, Milton proves that, with enough passion, one can create a lifetime of design and art. At 82 years old, Milton is still passionate about learning, experimenting, and making.

Notable takeaways:

  • Learn to draw, or get better at it. Be able to convey ideas in simple sketches. Understand form.
  • The computer negatively affects the way designers think, whether we realize it or not. The computer is a tool to accomplish design, not one which creates design. A sketch pad is the more powerful tool. A computer is something you tell what to do.
  • When he teaches, he often restricts using the computer.
  • Computer allows for quick experimentation, but does not allow for personal growth as a designer/artist.
  • Be a student of skepticism. Do not be afraid to challenge your own beliefs and change your own perceptions. “The interesting part of design is when you do not know what you are doing.”
  • The purpose of design is to make the viewer more attentive. Beauty and aesthetics attract our brains, making people pay attention to it.
  • He tries to sneak in as much art as possible into a project. Art should enhance the goals/function of a project, not merely cover it up

To quote Milton’s parting words: “Do good work.”

5 Comments for “MFA ComDes NYC: Day 1”

Sarah Fox

says:

Meeting Milton Glaser was a life-changing moment for me. Instead of worrying about where we fit somewhere between design, art and illustration, he believes in just doing good work. His idea of just sneaking in as much art as possible into a project had become my new mantra. Plus, he was just so darn sweet! I <3 Milton!

Sarah Fox

says:

Meeting Milton Glaser was a life-changing moment for me. Instead of worrying about where we fit somewhere between design, art and illustration, he believes in just doing good work. His idea of just sneaking in as much art as possible into a project has become my new mantra. Plus, he was just so darn sweet! I <3 Milton!

Gram Garner

says:

One of the dictionary definitions of design I just came across was, “to intend for a definite purpose.” Talking to Milton really emphasized that ideal, regardless of where in the art/design realm the project may fall…

Amanda Thomas

says:

What was so rewarding, for me, on this trip was the opportunity to poke and prod these designers about their thinking, not just about their work. We received the kinds of answers you won’t exactly find in a textbook, or anywhere else except directly from their mouth. Their responses really enriched my perspective of design and what it can be. As a future teacher, it makes it that much easier to “spread the gospel” :)

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