Who Put the Lust in Lustig?
Craig Welsh is an Alvin Lustigian. That’s an admirer who is also putting Alvin Lustig’s work and/or principles into concrete form. For over a year, Welsh has been raising money through Kickstarter and promoting the production of the Lustig Elements font, colorful prints based on the font, and a documentary film about the font. The projects are about ready to surface, so I asked Welsh where he’s at.
What gave you the inspiration to do this? After working for several days to complete the design of the full set of glyphs (280+) for the Lustig Elements font, the constant combining of shapes started to feel monotonous. I began to have a curiosity and desire to explore other compositional relationships between the shapes used in the font. Additionally, I had been working in only black and white on the project for a long time, so there was also an interest in seeing what would be possible with colored shapes.
How did your Kickstarter fare? The Kickstarter effort reached its funding goal. I’m now in the process of sending surveys to backers and moving forward with production of the various rewards. The first pieces should ship by the end of May, and the balance shortly thereafter.
What is your relationship to the material vis a vis Elaine Lustig Cohen? I produced the designs for the print compositions separately from the work with Elaine on the Lustig Elements font. While Elaine was not directly involved in the designs for the prints, I’m certain that her influence was, on some level, at play while I was working on them.
The designs are a wonderful interpretation of his elements. How do you think Lustig would feel about this work? First, thanks for the comment on the work. I hope he would feel that the compositions embody the spirit of commitment he valued in both design and printing. Anyone who has seen specimens of Alvin’s printed works is aware that the precision of his printed compositions using case material is astonishing. I hope he’d feel like a high-five had been earned.
A bigger question: How is this reapplication aiding design history? For me, it’s a reminder. No matter how advanced our tools become, there is something universally and implicitly beautiful and powerful about the simplicity of geometric shapes—the building blocks of design. The mathematical combinations of shapes speaks to how we form relationships, how we balance, and how we interact with and understand the world with which we interact.
What’s the status of your Lustig film? Working on one last shoot with Elaine, and will then be in editing mode.
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About Steven Heller
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →