Jennifer Sterling Finally Gets the Last Word

Having lived and worked on both coasts, Jennifer Sterling knows a thing or two about cultural and political discourse in design. Her illustrative typographic renderings have produced praise and ignited loathsome critiques from her peers.

She experienced a profound backlash in the early 2000s for her design of the now infamous 2001 AIGA 365 Annual. No designer has ever taken such a public beating for their work as she did. And she never responded. Until now.

That catalog sent designers into a tizzy. Today, I doubt anyone would raise a brow. Sterling did what she did best: She created typographic and textural images to create meaningful discourse and showcase the work as it was meant to be seen. But, perhaps she was ahead of her time. People didn’t get it and the reaction was visceral and harsh. Today that book would be a precious keepsake, and anyone featured within would be honored.

It seemed as if Sterling—then in San Francisco—dropped out of the design world, only to re-emerge five years ago in New York. That’s not quite the case. She has continually worked, but she intentionally kept a low profile. She was never looking for the spotlight, but it found her in the ugliest of ways. Despite that, her love for design never wavered and she continued to work with clients like Adobe, Aveda, Gilbert Paper, Hillary Clinton, and more. Her work has been included in the permanent collections of The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Library of Congress, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Museum Fur Kunst Und Gewerbe, Hamburg, and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

Here, we talk to her about her passion for design and typography, and we let her have the final word on that book she designed more than 15 years ago. Read the interview here.

Marc English is Always Going Off the Beaten Path

Whether he’s teaching, designing, or hitting the road on his motorcycle, Marc English never takes the prescribed route. No, he likes to distance himself from the tried and true, sticking to his gut instincts and following his muse.

English has become widely known in design circles as an eccentric with an appetite for adventure. He’s crisscrossed the U.S. on his Triumph Bonneville, meeting new people, sketching, speaking, and always searching for the best piece of pie. Here he talks about his journeys, people he’s met, things he’s seen, and his role in design.

What exactly are you up to these days?

For the last couple of years, I’ve been beating this expression into the ground, when folks ask what I’m up to: “As little as possible, and I don’t even start that till noon.” The truth is, I’m doing what I’ve been doing for the last thirty years: living life as best I can, with design and education paying the rent. Just more than a year ago, I was speaking at a conference in Palm Springs, and the name of my talk was “The Career I Never Wanted,” as I have never wanted to work for myself. Always wanted to work for someone older, smarter, more talented, that would take me under their wing. Life doesn’t always work the way you’d like, so I’ve had to suffer the consequences of my choices.

At the Boston HOW Conference of 1994, the late Gordon McKenzie, then creative director at Hallmark, spoke movingly about life in design, acknowledging the safest one can be is in an underground bunker with no windows or doors. I liken that to any number of dead-end design gigs — I’ll let the reader fill in the blanks as they see fit. On the other hand, Gordon said the most free one can be is in free-fall from an airplane without a parachute. I’d say that to a degree, I’ve been in the latter category, and after having my own gig for 23+ years, am lucky enough to have not yet hit ground. Before I hit, I’d like to find an equilibrium and halfway point between the two. Read the rest of the interview here.

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Design Links: A Chain of Creative Inspiration

This is part six in a series I’ve been doing for HOW Design. Every other week, I feature three artists whose work offers fresh, fun and stimulating creative inspiration. Each artist picks the next link—someone who personally inspires him/her. Check out the fifth part in the series, featuring Elena Kalorkoti, Wai Wai Pang, and Amanda Baeza here.

Amanda Baeza is inspired by…

Chris Harnan

His choices of colors, shapes, textures and plasticity is a living reminder that we can and should embrace the unexpected in our work. His work is undoubtedly mesmerizing. Read the rest of the entry, here.

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Anagrama: Beautifying Mexico One Boutique Brand at a Time

Although branding firm Anagrama has been around for only five years, it’s already made a remarkable impact in the design world as well as in its local community. Its three founders, Sebastian Padilla, Mike Herrera and Gustavo Muñoz, started the business while working out of Muñoz’s house in 2009, but the firm now boasts more than 40 graphic designers, architects and programmers based in two offices—Monterrey and Mexico City—as well as another partner, Roberto Treviño, who heads the architecture department.
“We create the perfect balance between a design boutique and a business consultancy, from focusing on the development of creative pieces with the utmost attention to details, to providing solutions based on the analysis of tangible data,” says Padilla, who works out of the Monterrey office as creative director and client liaison. By breaking the traditional agency scheme with its multidisciplinary approach, Anagrama has consistently created unique branding environments for its clients. They don’t just design packaging or logos—they build brands (quite literally) from the ground up. This floor-to-ceiling process requires all the skill sets within the firm—architects and interior designers working hand-in-hand with graphic designers and programmers to execute the strategy across the full branding spectrum. Read the rest of the article here.
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Meet ITAL/C: The L.A. studio’s beachy-clean style defies SoCal stereotypes

Designers Matt Titone and Ron Thompson met in 2009 while working at Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles. Both have experience at large agencies and small design studios alike, so when they decided to open their own multidisciplinary firm in 2012 in L.A., one of the first things they knew they wanted was the freedom to pursue all kinds of projects without limitation.

After an exhaustive naming process, they chose the name ITAL/C. “We like it because it’s not too descriptive or cheesy, and it’s part of the design vocabulary,” says Thompson. “It’s also a way to stand apart without shouting and be a little more elegant.” Fortunately, they didn’t have to shout to get business, but they did make a conscious decision when they opened shop that they wouldn’t take on freelance projects any longer. Read rest of story here.

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