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Posts Tagged ‘graphic design’

Shep and Dorothy

November 15, 2014 | by

A husband-and-wife team and their influential midcentury designs.

Page 34-35

From Dorothy and Otis: Designing the American Dream.

Lucky is the designer who can see in both two and three dimensions. Luckier still is she or he to be married to someone with equal gifts—especially if that mate is a collaborator and not a competitor. So appears to have been the case with Dorothy and Otis Shepard, whose enviable creative lives have been captured in the absorbing, moving, and lushly illustrated new book Dorothy and Otis: Designing the American Dream, by Norman Hathaway and Dan Nadel.

Both Dorothy and Shep (his nickname since childhood) got their start as commercial artists during San Francisco’s billboard boom of the 1920s. The Federal Highway Act, signed in 1921, helped fund the expansion of U.S. roadways, and advertisers took the opportunity to reach audiences beyond the traditional black-and-white pages of mail catalogs by posting colorful advertisements along America’s highways. Shep, a veteran of World War I, was a man of great adventure, with a strong and lasting interest in the theater. He was well regarded as a commercial painter while employed as an art director at Foster & Kleiser Outdoor Advertising Company, a top Bay Area agency of the period. In 1927, he wisely hired the gifted and highly praised Dorothy Van Gorder straight out of the California School of Arts and Crafts, from which she had graduated in only three years, as valedictorian. According to family lore, Dorothy was unabashedly outspoken (and just plain unabashed—she was once evicted from an apartment for sunbathing nude on the roof), and it cost her the Foster & Kleiser job, but almost as soon as she was let go, she was rehired for her prized skills. Hathaway and Nadel write that either in spite of or because of Dorothy’s brashness, Shep, the “raconteur,” soon began courting the “young bon vivant.”

And so their joint artistic adventure began—most markedly with a honeymoon in 1929 to Paris, Venice, Zurich, and Vienna. While there, they purchased Bauhaus furniture and had the good fortune to meet the great modernist Joseph Binder, who was a leader in the European abstract graphic style. “Shep and Dorothy already wanted their work to convey meaning through compositional structure—instead of realism,” write Hathaway and Nadel, but Binder’s reduction of “an image to a series of shapes and forms and [integration of] typography into his pictures” helped refine their approach to design and illustration. Both Dorothy and Otis had been following the modernist movement with great interest back home, but seeing this work and the new techniques in person and to scale had a profound and lasting effect on them. Read More »

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Loving Gorey, Trashing Ulysses

August 7, 2012 | by

  • Eve Bowen on the enduring cult of Edward Gorey.
  • We love Bookdrum’s interactive maps of the real locations featured in famous novels.
  • On his tumblr Newcover, graphic designer Matt Roeser gives books the covers he thinks they should have.
  • At the Atlantic, a discussion of what grown-ups can learn from kids’ books.
  • Paolo Coelho made waves when he told a Brazilian newspaper, “One of the books that caused great harm was James Joyce’s Ulysses, which is pure style. There is nothing there. Stripped down, Ulysses is a twit.”
  • Should you happen to disagree, here is a free audiobook of the modernist classic.
  • Joshua Cohen, a visiting scribe at the Jewish Book Council, talks the art and business of writing with Justin Taylor.
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    Charlotte Strick Talks to ‘The Atlantic’

    March 11, 2011 | by

    Our wonderful art editor Charlotte Strick took some time to talk to The Atlantic about her work as a graphic designer:

    What’s a design trend that you wish would go away?

    It’s not so much a design “trend”: the lack of quality in trade book publishing. Because of the rising costs of printing, many publishers are now using thinner paper stocks for book interiors. The paper feels cheap and there's more "show through" of the text from the previous page. Those of you who still enjoy holding a good old-fashioned book in your hands will know what I'm talking about. You really can feel the difference.

    What’s an idea you became fascinated with but that ended up taking you off track?

    Do ex-boyfriends count?

    I’d say so! Read the rest of Charlotte’s interview here.

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