This time on 'Things that are Great' we visit five artists that continually influence and inspire me as a designer.
1) Jim Flora, for me, is the quintessential jazz album designer of the forties. Of his work, I particularly enjoy his more pattern-esque pieces. His sensitivity to negative and positive space generates a certain tension in his work between the main subjects of the composition and the over-all visual texture that governs their placement in the format. This tension demands close scrutiny of the viewer. He must focus close into the work to discern its theme and subjects composed of whimsical, solid-colored shapes. However, if the viewer loses focus then he will see only the rhythm of the piece and not its subjects. In a way, his work reflects the nature of jazz in its seemingly extemporaneous execution and play on visual rhythm and texture, allowing the melody of figures to be lost to the more fundamental elements of composition.
2) Larry Torrez, former Disney animator and illustrator extraordinaire, has most recently completed work for various US Government education and awareness projects including the US Mint kids' site and various other projects for the FDA, CDC, and American Lung Association. I had the privilege of working with Larry on projects for the National HIV/AIDS Partnership. I learned a whole lot about the importance of telling a story with everything you do because aesthetics alone doesn't impress people as much as designers assume it does. I really like how adaptable Larry's style is to the constraints of the project. His style has a friendly and familiar appeal that works well with materials geared toward just about every age level and demographic. His work never looks out-of-place.
3) Tim Biskup's portfolio really speaks for itself. His collaborative work is so interesting to me. I would have loved to do some collaborative stuff while completing my undergrad degree.
4) Vladimir Tretchikoff's life (let alone his art) was quite remarkable. I'm attracted to his art because it often combines very raw sketching and fully developed realism in the same piece. It's like getting a backstage pass into the artists' performance. Or maybe it's like seeing a Thornton Wilder production. Also, Vlad is just flat out good at what he does.
5) Elly Kalagayan (whose work is grossly unrepresented online, much to my dismay) is by far the person with the greatest influence on me as a designer. What was the most important thing you learned from him, you ask? Well, though I can't say that it was a patent lesson, I definitely learned not to give up on a design (and when to quit). I'd often have a project on my table that I'd play with; then, thinking that I was pretty much finished, I'd show it to him (now, mind you, usually at this point what I had to show was complete trash). He'd look at it with a reticent expression (though definitely thoughtful) and say, "OK, just keep going." Initially, this was pretty frustrating. I really wanted to hear, "move that there and change that color and make that larger." Eventually I'd figure it out and arrive at something worth publishing. The flip side to learning to never be satisfied with your design is knowing when to stop. The story is much the same for that lesson, too. Elly's impeccable attention to detail makes everything he works on turn to gold. He's also an excellent typographer with a knack for custom lettering and a master of bezier awesomeness.Posted by timf at May 9, 2008 11:24 AM