If you’ve never been a fan of Papyrus or Comic Sans, then this exhibit is for you.
Co-organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York, the “Graphic Design: Now in Production” exhibit will showcase works from various designers who have experimented with unique ways of creating designs ranging from magazine covers and brand packaging to typography and movie credits. The exhibit runs until January 6 at the UCLA Hammer Museum.
Ellen Lupton, senior curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt, said that the goal of the collection was to showcase the ongoing evolution of contemporary design from the past 10 years to the present.
“We wanted to convey the diversity of contemporary design and how it came across media. There’s digital work but also the revival of traditional printing methods, a lot of projects that are tactile,” said Lupton.
And design on paper is as traditional as the exhibit goes.
The first room of the exhibit prominently features two widescreen television screens playing the creative opening credits from films like “Catch Me If You Can” where a suited convict swindles his way through the world, tricking everyone from housekeepers to lawyers. The three-minute animation utilizes the power of clean lines and fluid motion typography to move with the quippy background jazz.
Other movies follow one after another, including popular motion pictures like “Up in the Air,” “Casino Royale” and “Blue Valentine,” where visitors can experience the transition of graphic design from paper to the digital platform.
Unlike the usual avant-garde nature of the Hammer Museum’s exhibits, “Now in Production” is able to draw from the current culture of digital media. Each wall of the exhibit explodes with eye-catching color, videos of movement and the carefully coordinated intersects in the designs that range from infographics about chocolate on the Web to reinvented logos of major companies like Starbucks and Nickelodeon.
One display compiles all of the doodles that Google has displayed on its homepage since 1998, showing its evolution from a simple typeface into an interactive headline that users remind themselves to visit each day.
Aside from the visually enticing aspects of design, the ultimate focus of the exhibit lies in how the art is produced.
“There’s a beautiful project by Daniel Eatock where he made a series of prints by laying grids of magic markers and paper which pulls the ink (from the markers),” said Lupton. “He actually produced this in the gallery so we got to see the physical making of it and how to keep the markers from falling over and sometimes he would lay it down more than once.”
These performance installations reveal the method as opposed to the final result, said Lupton. Near the end of the exhibit, there lies a machine designed by JÃ¼rg Lehni called a Scriptographer that makes posters ““ not with ink, but with large circles punched out of paper.
From beginning to end, viewers are exposed to art in the form of the final product but also in its phases of production. As much as the exhibit simply presents a visual feast for visitors, the collection also encourages others to define the new world order of design.
“I want them to see graphic design as something they can use in their own life and I think college students are constantly having to communicate using videos, publishing and the Internet,” said Lupton. “All that stuff is part of today’s world of communicating so we really hope people will see it as an invitation to design.”