Get Swissted!

I’m gonna open this post shamelessly with a picture of my living room. As soon as I saw Mike Joyce’s book, Swissted, published in 2013, I knew I had to have it. More than had to have it. Had to choose my favorite nine of the 200 posters—choosing wasn’t easy—and get them framed and up on the wall.

“Zurich calling,” wrote Joyce in the book’s introduction. “I want to tell you a few things before you start ripping this book apart, literally … Swissted was born out of two of my favorite things: punk rock and typography.”

As an angst-ridden youth, he admits, he frequented punk and hardcore shows in seedy bars and old V.F.W. halls. These shows were often promoted by raw, anti-art, photocopied, black-and-white flyers cut-and-pasted from altered or subversive images. He went on to study graphic design at Alfred University under Swiss Modernist Fred Troller and was mesmerized and inspired by “the unembellished clarity of grid systems, sans-serif typefaces, asymmetric layouts, and geometric forms.” Then, as owner and creative director of Stereotype Design, he designed albums for bands and musicians. For at least 20 years, he revealed, he harbored a not-so-secret desire to fuse International Typographic Style with punk rock. “One day, I finally convinced myself to create a few designs and I immediately fell into a deep, delirious addiction.”

Well, I got addicted, too, and so did many others. In fact, Mike Joyce has so many fans that the recent opening of the Swissted exhibition at the Type Directors Club of New York was almost immediately sold out. Everybody wanted to meet the guy who did that stuff, and—wow!—the posters were knockouts at three feet wide by more than four feet high.

“The Type Directors Club welcomes everyone to come and enjoy the exhibit,” says Carol Wahler, director. By appointment, until February 2, she’ll introduce the show and give a talk about the history of the TDC to interested individuals and groups of students.

Graphic designer and photographer Paula Kelly at the party with the “Swissted” book, published by Quirk Books in 2013. It contains 200 11 x 14″, perforated, ready-to-frame posters.

Mike Joyce modestly thanked everyone for coming and appreciating his “stripped down, minimalist” posters. “I also think the project is a tribute to the true independent spirit of punk in that it shows there’s not one specific way in which things should be done,” he said.

“I was blown away when hundreds of thousands of people responded to the project,” Mike said. “And I was completely unprepared for all the requests from people who wanted my designs as actual printed posters. The credit for that goes to A to A Studio Solutions for bringing my work into the physical world and printing and shipping thousands of posters around the globe. It’s an absolute honor to know that my work hangs in people’s homes as well as in shows like the Type Directors Club and the Museum of Design, Zurich.

Guests included Paul Shaw, left, a 30-year TDC member, who leads type walks around New York City (and the world).

Matteo Bologna, also a longtime TDC member, treated guests to a quiz about typefaces and typefaces.

250 of Mike Joyce’s Swissted posters (he’s designed 50 more since the book was published) are available from A to A Studio Solutions and from the Swissted site at $50 to $150 each, depending on size. “We print on-demand with archival inks on Epson Enhanced Matte,” explains A to A’s owner Allan Wahler. “When we entered into a partnership with Mike three years ago we expected to sell maybe 50, 60 posters. Over the past three years we’ve shipped more than 3,000 posters all over the world, to China, Japan, Australia, Mexico, which speaks to how much people love them.”

“We’re all about type driving culture,” adds Carol Wahler. “These music posters, composed with simple forms and colors and one typeface, Berthold Akzidenz-Grotesk, exemplify that.”

The exhibition is free and open to the public by appointment, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, through Friday, February 2, at the New York Type Directors Club, 347 West 36th Street, Suite 603.


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