Author Archives: Ellen Shapiro

About Ellen Shapiro

Print contributing editor Ellen Shapiro is principal of Visual Language LLC in Irvington, NY. She has been designing for her whole life and writing about design for more than 20 years. She blogs about design, gardens, food and travel at dig-it-blog.com

The Education of a Typographic Innovator

Rolando G. Alcantara was born and raised in Torreón, an industrial city in north-central Mexico. He attended a technical high school there. Since childhood, he’d planned to become a doctor—a radiologist, like his mom. A few weeks ago, he received his MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and brought a compelling presentation...

Back to the AIGA/NY Past: Recollections on 30 Years

What can you learn from 12 big-name designers about 30 years of New York design history? You can learn that everyone sees things in a different way and brings his or her own spin to the table (or to the stage and the slide show, in this case). The New York chapter of the...

Talking “Eames Words” with Deborah Sussman

“The world knows about the chairs, the films, the toys,” Deborah Sussman said. “But the world does not know what Charles and Ray said, what they loved, what they had for breakfast. They found uncommon beauty in common things: a loaf of bread, a keg of nails, a ball of twine.” She was talking...

Why Is This Haggadah Different from All Other Haggadot?

“If I touch the letters, I think and I hope that people will be touched by them.” So said Israeli graphic and type designer Oded Ezer yesterday in a 1.5 hour NY—Tel Aviv Skype interview with me about The New American Haggadah, published this month by Little, Brown and Company. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of...

Tristan Schmitz: New Name on the New York Design Scene

He arrived in New York last September with his wife, their kitten, and two suitcases. The next morning, he reported for work as the new senior designer at Chermayeff & Geismar. That doesn’t happen every day. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Tristan Schmitz, 28, about leaving his home country, Germany, and...

State of Deception

What is the role of the printed word and image in collectively inciting societies to brand certain members and groups as evil, and to convince the citizenry to condone—if not incite—murder? During a recent visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, I was reeducated in the power of branding—especially as...

Portrait of The Artist (1881-1973) as a Young Man

I’ll never forget an object I saw in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona 25 years ago: Picasso’s first-grade reader. He’d filled the margins with pencil drawings: animals, birds, people. Next to the book in the glass case was a teacher’s note to his mama: “Pablo should stop drawing in class and pay attention to...

Photography’s Silver Age—Now Showing on Broadway, Free of Charge

“There was a time, before photography got discovered and revered as art, that everybody knew who the good photographers were. The people who cared about photography and knew all the photographers knew who the good ones were. And you could rank them in order, and move the order around according to what they had...

The Ultimate Brand Extension?

Product packaging spotted at the Wumart (I kid you not) in Beijing. Are these REAL Pepsi briefs, or is this the ultimate in knockoffs? I asked Lisa Francella, senior director of Visual Identity and Branding Extension at Pepsico, Inc., in Purchase, New York. “I know this is not a package that I approved!” was...

La Dolce Vita, Domani

I got to my local Target store at the Palisades Mall in Nyack, NY, just before 11:00 a.m. yesterday morning to check out the limited-time Missoni collection on opening day. I was three hours too late. Every shelf and rack of Missoni merchandise was empty. Well, there were two sweaters in the children’s section...