Graphic Designers

Welcome to Scratching the Surface, the brand new design podcast interested in the intersection of criticism and practice hosted by Jarrett Fuller. Released weekly, each episode will feature conversations with designers, writers, critics, educators and people who do a combination of these. We’ll talk about the role of design criticism, the state of design writing, and try to figure out new ways to talk about graphic design.

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Armin Vit is the co-founder of Under Consideration with his wife Bryony Gomez-Palacio, the site behind popular blogs Brand New, FPO, and SpeakUp. In this conversation, I talk to Armin about how he started writing, why he shut down SpeakUp in 2009, why everyone is critiquing logos now, and how social media is changing the design discourse.

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On this week’s episode, I talk with Bryn Smith, a designer, writer, and editor based in New York City. Bryn is a graduate of SVA’s Design Criticism MFA and the co-author of the new book, Twenty Over Eighty. We talk about her experience in SVA’s program, what a design critic could do at major publications, and how to use design artifacts to write about larger cultural issues.

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David Reinfurt is a design polymath operating at the intersection of design, publishing, curation, and exhibitions. His studio, O-R-G, is now a small software company “that programs, publishes, and sells apps, websites, screensavers, and other small chunks of code”. With Stuart Bailey, he’s the co-founder of Dexter Sinister and with Bailey and Angie Keefer, he publishes The Serving Library. In July, I interviewed David about his work across mediums and how they intersect, the fluid boundaries of graphic design and the type of writing around design he enjoys the most.

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Dmitri Siegel is a creative director, designer, and writer. He’s currently the Vice President of Global Brand for Sonos and was previously Executive Creative Director at Patagonia. He also was one of my favorite writers of the Emigre-era, where his writing appeared in Emigre, Design Observer, and Dot Dot Dot. In this episode, Dmitri and I talk about his interest in writing about design, going from writing for Emigre to leading design at Sonos, and how design criticism has changed over the course of his career.

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In the final episode of my June series on my professors, I talk to the co-director of MICA’s MFA graphic design program Ellen Lupton. In addition to her work at MICA, Ellen is the Senior Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper Hewitt, and a prolific author of notable design books like Thinking with Type, Type on Screen, and Graphic Design: The New Basics. In our conversation, recorded a few days after graduation, I talk with Ellen about her own career as a designer, writer, curator, and educator, how she thinks about writing for emerging designers, and how the design discourse ...

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Ian Lynam is a designer, writer, teacher, and publisher currently based in Tokyo. He runs his own design studio, teaches at Temple University Japan and Meme Design school, is chair of VCFA’s MFA graphic design program, writes for magazines like Idea and Slanted, and runs the boutique type foundry and online shop Wordshape. In this conversation, Ian and I talk about his early interest in writing and designing zines, the state of design discourse and the problems with the sort of design writing you find on sites like Medium today as well as the role of writing in his own ...

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Welcome to Scratching the Surface, the brand new design podcast interested in the intersection of criticism and practice hosted by Jarrett Fuller. Released weekly, each episode will feature conversations with designers, writers, critics, educators and people who do a combination of these. We’ll talk about the role of design criticism, the state of design writing, and try to figure out new ways to talk about graphic design.

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James Langdon is a designer, writer, and curator. He is one of six directors of Eastside Projects, an artist-run exhibition space in Birmingham, England, runs an independent design practice, and has written for publications like The Serving Library and Bricks from the Kiln. He’s a professor in the communication design department at HfG Karlsruhe and in 2013, he founded the itinerant School for Design Fiction, working with students to investigate the storytelling inherent in the design process. He’s also written and researched extensively on the work of Norman Potter. In this episode, we talk about how Dot Dot Dot sparked ...

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Jessica Helfand is a designer, writer, podcaster, and publisher. She cofounded Design Observer in 2002 with Rick Poynor, Michael Bierut, and William Drenttel and most recently wrote the book, Design: The Invention of Desire. In this episode, the first part of a two-part conversation, Jessica and I talk about the origins of Design Observer, how she started writing, writing about design in relationship to culture, and how emerging mediums like video and podcasts can provide a new platform for design criticism.

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In my second conversation with Jessica Helfand — recorded earlier this month when Jessica was in Baltimore — we talk about Winterhouse (the studio she co-founded with William Drenttel), publishing, the role of design (and design criticism) in Trump’s America, and what she’s learned in her first semester teaching design at the Yale School of Management.

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John L. Walters is the editor of Eye Magazine. Before becoming the editor in 1999, John worked as a writer and editor on a variety of publications and newspapers, including The Architectural Review and The Guardian, and previously was a musician, touring England with his band, Landscape. In this episode, John and I talk about the transition from music to writing, how he started writing about graphic design, and how the design discourse has changed over his nearly twenty years of editing Eye and how the magazine has to both evolve and stay true to its identity.

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Jon Sueda is a designer, curator, and educator. He is the founder of the Stripe, a graphic design studio based in San Francisco specializing in printed material, identity, and exhibition work and the Chair of the MFA Design program at California College of the Arts. He’s also curated the exhibitions for the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, the 25th International Graphic Design Biennial in Brno, Czech Republic, and SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco. In this conversation, Jon and I talk about his design background, the intersection of graphic design and curation, and studying under critics like Lorraine Wild ...

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Khoi Vinh is currently Principle Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost and previously co-founded Mixel and was the design director of The New York Times online. Khoi’s site, Subtraction.com, was one of the first blogs I started reading when I started designing over a decade ago and in this episode, I talk to him about how he started blogging, how writing has influenced his design career, and the the need for a more rigorous criticism around digital product design.

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Michael Bierut needs no introduction. As a partner at Pentagram since 1990, he’s worked on projects ranging from logos and environmental signage systems, books and packaging for clients including Verizon, The New York Times, MIT Media Lab, and Hillary Clinton. But Michael is also a prolific writer, having co-founded Design Observer in 2003 and co-editing the Looking Closer series, and in this episode, I talk with Michael about that writing. We talk about the origins of Design Observer, how he started writing, and how the public’s growing awareness of graphic design has changed the discourse.

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On this week’s episode, I talk with the designer and writer Michael Rock. Michael is the co-founder and creative director at 2×4, teaches at Yale and Columbia, and writes for The New York Times T Magazine. This summer, I visited Michael at 2×4’s New York headquarters to talk about his own history, how he thinks about his roles as a designer and writer, the importance of theory in design practice, and writing about design for a general audience.

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Mitch Goldstein is a designer, artist, and educator based in Rochester, NY. He is an Assistant Professor the School of Design at the Rochester Institute of Technology, works in collaboration with his wife Anne Jordan on client projects, and maintains an ongoing art practice focusing on experimental darkroom photography. He also co-hosted the design podcast Though Process and has written and lectured extensively on design and design education. In this episode, Mitch and I talk about our evolving definitions of the words ‘graphic design’, critique methods in the classroom, and the problems with contemporary design discourse.

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Paul Ford is a writer, programmer, educator, and technologist. He is currently the co-founder of Postlight, a digital product studio in New York and teaches at the School of Visual Arts. He’s written for publications like Harper’s, New York, Medium, and The Morning News and is a frequent commentator on technology and the internet. In 2015, he published “What is Code?” for Bloomberg Businessweek, an issue-length essay explaining programming to a mass audience. In this episode, Paul and I talk about his childhood interest in computers and books, the early days of the web and building his own blogging software, ...

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Paul Soulellis is a designer, writer, and educator. After spending twenty years working as a designer, fifteen of those years under his own studio, Soulellis Studios, Paul recently has shifted his work into a more expanded and experimental practice. In 2014, while part of the New Museum’s incubator, he started Counterpractice, his new design studio, and began publishing his now-ongoing project Library of the Printed Web. He also recently joined the faculty at RISD in their graphic design department. In this episode, Paul and I talk about the significance of blogging to his work, building new types of graphic design ...

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Peter Bil’ak is a designer, writer, type designer, and publisher based in the Netherlands. My introduction to Peter’s work was through Dot Dot Dot, the magazine he co-founded and published with Stuart Bailey in the early 2000s and in this episode, we talk about the origins of that magazine as well as his new publication, Works That Work. We also talk about how he started writing and how that influences his work as a designer, shifting designing criticism from the perspective of the maker to that of the user, and the general representation of design magazines.

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Prem Krishnamurthy is a designer, curator, and writer. He is a founding principle, with Adam Michaels, of the New York design studio Project Projects and founder and curator of P!, an experimental exhibition space in New York’s Chinatown. Additionally, Prem is an editor for the art journal Paper Monument and on the board of directors for Triple Canopy. In August, I visited Project Projects’s office to talk with Prem about these range of projects. Over the course of the conversation, we talk about the relationship between design and writing, the role of authorship, the false divide between form and content, ...

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Rianne Petter and Mark Mulder are designers and researchers from the Netherlands. The couple operates independent practices that span graphic design, research, writing, and education. Last fall, the couple visited Baltimore to lead a weekend workshop on design research of Maryland Institute College of Art’s graduate graphic design department and I sat down with them at the end of the weekend to talk about their own practice, the role of research in the graphic design process, and the differences between the design discourse of the Netherlands and the United States.

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In the first episode of Scratching the Surface, Jarrett talks with designer and writer Rob Giampietro. Rob is currently the Design Lead for Material Design at Google New York. In this conversation, we talk about how Rob approaches writing and designing, design as a critical activity, and the design writing he’d like to see more of.

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Ruben Pater, working under the name Untold Stories, describes his work as creating “visual narratives about geopolitical issues” and creating “new relations between journalism and design”. He most recently is the author of the book, The Politics of Design, where Pater explores the cultural and political context of the typography, colors, photography, symbols, and information graphics that we use every day. In this conversation, I talk with Ruben about the book and the relationship between design and journalism, showcasing his process as the artifact, the importance of studying design outside of the traditional Western canon, and why he still calls himself ...

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Sara De Bondt is a designer, educator, and publisher. She runs her own independent design practice working with cultural clients and is the co-founder of Occasional Papers, a small publishing company focusing on publishing affordable books devoted to the histories of architecture, art, design, film, and literature. The Walker Art Center called Sara “the epitome of a cultural designer, combining a love of contemporary typography with a deep investigation into the history of graphic design. Through her design practice, which consists of client-based work, designing and editing books, and curating conferences, she is consistently contributing to the critical discourse.” In ...

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