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The Graphic Design USA Blog

GDUSA Magazine's Official Blog

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Tag "craft"

Guest Post by Image Source

As the world is getting craftier we look at three key moments in the emergence of Craft as a creative and commercial phenomenon. Consider these three pivotal moments in the emergence of Craft and the Handmade over the last 20 years, a Design moment, a production and retail moment, and a moment that merges sophisticated digital processes with a notion of the handmade.

1. Design: Stefan Sagmeister

During the mid to late 90s New York-based designer Stefan Sagmeister produced a series of works for clients that didn’t just go against the grain of modernist revivalism in design but chewed up the grain and spat it out, regurgitating design formulas as the playfully handcrafted. While designer David Carson unravelled the modern layout, Sagmeister took out his pen-knife and carved his initials in the tree.

Sagmeister’s handcrafted work feels both like a highly personal piece of communication but his Craft also attacks our conventional, common sense ideas of the kinds of materials Advertisers and Marketing people might use for messages. For example his poster for Lou Reed’s album Set the Twilight Reeling draws the the song titles over Reed’s face.

Stefan-Sagmeister-Set-the-Twilight-Reeling-1996-600x800
Stefan Sagmeister, Set the Twilight Reeling, 1996. From Sagmeister, by Peter Hall, Booth-Clibborn Editions, 2001

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Photographer JLPH / Cultura RF
Photographer JLPH / Cultura RF

It’s tempting to say that in 2014 Craft is big business, but of course Craft is always small business.

So when was it that we moved from the world of anonymous corporate branding, design and logos, to the world of sign-painting? Actually, in this post-credit crunch era its easy to imagine many financial institutions fantasizing about swapping the cold, discredited corporate typeface for the almost childlike appeal of handmade signage.

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Mohawk is standing foursquare with the emerging maker culture. In a technological era punctuated with e-mail, smart phones, tablets and texts, the venerable paper mill is supporting this community of like-minded makers with the introduction of three new publications: The Mohawk Declaration of Craft, Mohawk Craft Cooperative and Mohawk Maker Quarterly.

The publications feature the stories of designers, printers, manufacturers, artists, artisans, musicians, and all those who make their living as makers. In so doing, these publications – and the ongoing “Mohawk Maker” and “What Will You Make Today?” campaigns – reaffirm making as a fundamental expression of the human spirit while speaking directly to the heart of the community and the need to create.

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“Companies who understand the creative mind have always been rare but, in our 50 years of publishing, it is hard to remember a time when they have been more scarce. Changing technologies and tightening economics are creating dislocations, established brands are disappearing faster than Twinkies, and many companies who once embraced our magnificent market have lost their focus.” – Gordon Kaye, GDUSA Publisher

Every year GDUSA compiles a list of Designer-Friendly Companies and it seems to me that each year the list gets a little shorter. I hail the companies that have continued their commitment to the design industry but as I pore over old issues of GDUSA what sticks with me the most is the number of industries within the design world that have simply disappeared. Photo retouching studios, annual report companies and pre-press production department have all fallen to the wayside.

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