The Complex Bonds Between Design and Surrealism

  This article appears in the August issue of Print.     I have my former English teacher, Mr. Taylor, to thank for my interest in surrealism. During one class, he described Salvador Dalí’s 1931 painting The Persistence of Memory, …

The Missing Critical History of Illustration

  How seriously should we take illustration? I pose the question in this potentially offensive way because I often wonder how seriously illustration takes itself.      Let me say at once that I have always gained a lot of …

Observer: We need more galleries that exhibit graphic design

  Exhibition showing the work of James Joyce at Kemistry Gallery, London   On the rare occasions that an exhibition of graphic design appears, it’s a safe bet that one complaint will always be heard. Graphic design, someone will say, …

Observer: Melt in Your Mouth

Robert Opie’s obsession with packaging began as a teenager, and he remembers the exact day—September 8, 1963—as well as the reason. He was traveling in Scotland and bought a pack of Mackintosh’s Munchies, a chocolate-covered sweet with a caramel and …

Observer: The Life of the Seoul

In the summer of 2008, I was invited to give a week of lectures to a design class in South Korea. Several students were scheduled to make brief presentations at the end of the week on subjects they had been …

Observer: Perfect Ten (Or Twelve)

To a certain cast of mind—a cast shared by many designers—lists of preferences are fascinating. Lists offer information in its most elemental form. There is no explicit linkage between the items, no explanation or opinion. Everything comes down to selection …

Observer: Counter Points

In the perennially careful world of graphic design, where most people avoid potentially embarrassing slugfests with colleagues at any cost, a good argument is rare to find. Yet a public clash of views and even a bit of righteous anger …

Observer: Strained Relations

The French curator and writer Nicolas Bourriaud’s book Relational Aesthetics is the most influential work of art criticism to appear in the past decade. First published in 1998 and translated into English in 2002, it’s a fashionable art-world bestseller that …

Observer: Encyclopedia Erratica

  “One of the key features of graphic design is it involves selecting the appropriate image making tools out of it’s ability to generate meaning rather than preference.” You probably had to read that sentence twice, and even if you …

Observer: Paper Trails

I was traveling back to London from the French region of Provence when I saw the posters. The Eurostar train leaves from Avignon; I had some time to kill before its departure, so I left the bags at the station …