The Daily Heller: Jayme Odgers, New Wave Design Pioneer and Experimental Artist, Dies

Posted inThe Daily Heller
Photograph from Odgers’ recently launched website

Designer, photographer and painter Jayme Odgers (born 1939) passed away on March 29 at 82.

I had the good fortune to interview him on three separate occasions (twice during 2021)—albeit from a distance. I never got to meet him in person. To celebrate his generation-defining work, below are the links to those articles, in which he discusses his recent work, legacy output, and his time as an assistant to Paul Rand.

Untitled mixed media

“Jayme Odgers: Present and Past” (Nov. 9, 2015): In the late 1970s, during a transitional time in graphic design history, Odgers helped establish a new look for California design, dubbed The Pacific Wave. His collaboration with April Greiman introduced the Postmodern ethos to the field—a marriage of fragmented, object-based photographic collage and asymmetric typography that set the stage of the brief pre-digital moment for the coming digital era. Odgers is indeed a historical figure—and yet he is not as well known as his contemporaries because he turned to making art as the new Turks rose to the forefront of graphic design. This exclusive interview is a step toward sharing his full story.

A 1966 IBM annual report Odgers worked on with Paul Rand

The Assistant, Jayme Odgers, Works for Paul Rand” (Nov. 11, 2021): This installment of “The Assistant” is a remembrance by Odgers. Odgers grew up in the “cultural black hole of the copper mining town of Butte, MT,” hundreds of miles—and seeming light years away—from anything. He says he was a blank slate when he arrived in Southern California to go to art school. It was at college, circa 1958, that Odgers stumbled across Paul Rand’s work in a library. The first piece he saw was the 1950 film noir movie poster for No Way Out. “I was irrevocably smitten. Instantly, the stable data [of] my mind seemed to explode into pieces—what am I looking at? I’d never seen anything like that poster before. It was unforgettable. It etched itself in my mind.” Read the full piece here.

Moving poster for Douglas W. Schmidt, Broadway Playwright, in collaboration with April Greiman. 1980

“Jayme Odgers Launches a Legacy Website” (Dec. 22, 2021): Odgers is heralded for his crisp photography, surreal montage and illuminating colors.

As an assistant to Paul Rand, he took a radical detour from classic midcentury Modernism. “The pre-digital commercial work I did between 1962 and 1986 resisted categorization by typical commercial design standards,” he detailed. “The work blurred the boundaries between graphic design, typography, photography, illustration and collage—I refer to them as blendos.”

This interview explores Odgers’ place in design history.