The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston presents Graphic Design—Now in Production. On View: July 20 – September 29, 2013. Opening Reception: Friday, July 19, 2013,7-9PM.This major international exhibition explores how graphic design has broadened its reach dramatically over the past decade, expanding from a specialized profession to a widely deployed tool. With the rise of user-generated content and new creative software, along with innovations in publishing and distribution systems, people outside the field are mobilizing the techniques and processes of design to create and publish visual media. At the same time, designers are becoming producers: authors, publishers, instigators, and entrepreneurs employing their creative skills as makers of content and shapers of experiences.Featuring work produced since 2000 in the most vital sectors of communication design, Graphic Design—Now in Production explores design-driven magazines, newspapers, books, and posters as well as branding programs for corporations, subcultures, and nations. It also showcases a series of developments over the past decade, such as the entrepreneurial nature of designer-produced goods; the renaissance in digital typeface design; the storytelling potential of titling sequences for film and television; and the transformation of raw data into compelling information narratives."We are excited to bring this ambitious exhibition to Houston. Graphic Design highlights the many ways design impacts our everyday lives, from the magazines we're compelled to buy in the checkout lanes to the objects we surround ourselves with at home and work. It's an incredibly dynamic exhibition, and one that I think will inspire viewers to look at their surroundings a little more closely, maybe with a renewed appreciation for the details," says CAMH Senior Curator Valerie Cassel Oliver.
Graphic design is the art and practice of visual communication. Designers use color, typography, images, symbols, and systems to make the surfaces around us come alive with meaning. Today the field is shifting and expanding in unprecedented ways as new technologies and social movements are changing the way people make and consume media. Public awareness of graphic design has grown enormously during the past two decades through the revolutions in desktop computing and networked communication, which have also fueled tremendous growth in the profession.The exhibition is organized around eight themes: Posters, Magazines, Books, Information Design, Branding, Typography, Storefront, and Film and Television Titles.Posters
The poster is the most iconic form of graphic design, with its roots in the early advertising culture of the 19th century. Today, designers create posters to actively investigate the genre itself through self-initiated projects. Experimental approaches to the poster encourage user-generated messages and explore digital, mechanical, and handmade techniques. This section includes Albert Exergian's poster series based on American television classics; Jürg Lehni and Alex Rich's "Empty Words" project, a system for making die-cut posters; and Anthony Burrill's typographic woodblock and silkscreen posters proclaiming messages such as "Oil & Water Do Not Mix," printed with ink made from spilled Gulf of Mexico oil.Magazines
Publishers are rethinking the traditional magazine by exploiting print-on-demand, online distribution networks, the explosion of niche audiences, and new digital formats. This section was curated by Jeremy Leslie, creative director of the blog magCulture, which explores issues and trends in publication design.
Among the projects on view are Jop van Bennekom's Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman; Karen, an independent magazine-maker with a highly personal blog-like sensibility; Hannerie Visser's Afro magazine from South Africa, which reimagines the form of the magazine itself; and Pedro Fernandes' design of I, a Portuguese newspaper that incorporates the visual vocabulary of magazines.Books
The role of the designer in the publishing process during the past 20 years has dramatically shifted to be more inclusive in terms of authoring, editing, and self-publishing. This section features work by David Pearson, whose Pocket Penguin book titles reinvigorated the publisher's classic backlist; the print-on demand experiments of James Goggin; Irma Boom's innovative book designs; and McSweeney's books and magazines, which employ typography, layout, and production to enhance the experience of reading.Information Design
Information designers serve as storytellers, journalists, and translators, seeking to organize data in understandable, engaging, and memorable ways. This section includes information displays created by the New York Times Graphics Department that tell the news stories of today and Catalogtree's interactive iPad app about the "flash crash" of the American financial markets.Branding
More than just a logo, a brand consists of a larger visual and verbal identity as well as the perceived values that both define and set apart an organization, community, or even an individual. Designers approach branding as a narrative-driven experience, evoking an emotional response and solidifying the relationship between the company and consumers.This section was curated by Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio, operators of the blog Brand New, which tracks the ever-changing world of brand makeovers and corporate identity programs.Highlights include Ji Lee's World Trade Center Logo Preservation project, documenting the use of the twin towers to brand numerous New York City area businesses; a new project commission from design researchers Metahaven about the use of social media as a powerful form of communication and control; and experimental identities for cultural institutions, created by Stefan Sagmeister, Mevis & Van Deursen, and Maureen Mooren, among others.Typography
Typography is the creation of letterforms and other characters that give visual form to the spoken and written word. The personal computer revolution of the 1980s introduced typography to the general public, and the availability of font design software in the 1990s fueled a renaissance in typeface design. Featured works on view in this section include Process Type's Anchor, Peter Bilak's History, and Lineto's Akkurat, as well as posters and other artifacts created by Antoine + Manuel, Marian Bantjes, and Oded Ezer.Storefront
Today's designers are increasingly entrepreneurial, designing merchandise and conceiving goods for sale themselves. This section includes designer-created and designer-curated products, including t-shirts, wrapping paper, housewares, wall coverings, and tools.
Works on view include wallpapers produced by Knoll and Maharam, the artfully designed, bespoke axes by Peter Buchanan Smith from Best Made Co., and Meike Gerritzen's Beware of Software vest.Film and Television Titles
Film and television titles are mini narratives that give viewers insight into what is to come and what has already happened. This section will feature television and film titles curated by Ian Albinson, co-founder of the website artofthetitle.com, created by some of the leading motion graphic designers practicing today.
The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is the fifth stop in a national tour of the exhibition, which debuted at the Walker Art Center in fall 2011 and was most recently presented by the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University in Grand Rapids. The lead curators of Graphic Design-Now in Production are Andrew Blauvelt, curator of architecture and design at the Walker Art Center, and Ellen Lupton, senior curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt. A comprehensive, illustrated catalogue produced by the Walker accompanies the exhibition.PUBLIC PROGRAMS
Accompanying Graphic Design-Now in Production will be a wide-ranging schedule of programming, including upcoming talks by participating artists Trevor Paglen, Stefan Sagmeister, and Marian Bantjes. In combination with American Institute of Graphic Arts Houston, Sagmeister and Bantjes will give a presentation on their respective careers and a joint discussion on their collaborations.In addition, CAMH will be presenting the series Design Now: Houston. Ranging from interactive design and letterpress to infographics and book design, the series will explore the breadth of design practices taking place in Houston.Each Thursday evening there will be a talk that will feature 2-3 speakers from the design community who will lead participatory lectures, discussions, and workshops. Presenters include Workhorse Printmakers/Spindletop Design, Ned Dodington, Susan Rogers, Culture Pilot, Ph Design, Peter Lucas, Thomas Hull of Rigsby Hull, Ronny Quevedo, Reto Geiser, and many others. One speaker from each Thursday night will also lead a workshop the following Saturday. Select workshops will be limited in availability and will require advance sign up.Please check CAMH's calendar at www.camh.org for a complete list of dates and more information on the programs (available late June).Pictured above: Anthony Burrill, Oil & Water Do Not Mix, 2010, conceived and produced in collaboration with Happiness, Brussels. Courtesy the artist.