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Erik Spiekermann Explains It All

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hello I am erikLike most beings who can have their day ruined by a sign set in Comic Sans, we’ve long admired the typographic genius of Erik Spiekermann, but who knew he was also a master of similes? “Having a color copier in ’77 was like having your own nuclear reactor in the basement,” he told a rapt audience earlier this week at Parsons The New School for Design, where he appeared with designer Johannes Erler to promote Hello I am Erik (Gestalten). Edited, written, and designed by Erler in close cooperation with Spiekermann (who designed the book’s lone typeface, “and whose son, Dylan, provided the English translation), the biography-cum-pictorial history documents the self-described typomaniac’s projects, traces milestones in his life, and offers his perspectives on design alongside essays by the likes of Neville Brody and Stefan Sagmeister. Below are some of the most illuminating Spiekermann-isms of the evening, which was organized and sponsored by the Type Directors Club.

On Hello I am Erik:
I had nothing to do with this book except I employed somebody to go through what little archives I have—because I had this big fire in ’77 and then a couple of floods, and my ex-partners threw away all my archives, so there was very little there. Poor Inga had to spend a year finding stuff, which was impossible.

On the typeface he created for the book:
I kept out of the design [of the book] because I was the subject, not the doer. The one requirement I had was that I’ve always wanted to do this particular typeface that is based on the weight of Akzidenz-Grotesk. There’s a specific weight that only existed in very large wooden or resin letters, and I’ve always liked it…and this was the opportunity to do it. So I said to Johannes, OK, I’m going to design this typeface—one weight only—and you will only use one weight in this whole book.

On the fluorescent cover:
We both happen to like dayglo. I’m not much of a color person. I’m very black and white. But I’ve always liked orange dayglo.
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Twitter Along with UnBeige

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Famed literary critic Lionel Trilling once described Henry James as a “social twitterer.” Sure, he meant it as an insult, but it makes us feel better about having joined the tweeting masses. Look to the UnBeige Twitter feed for up-to-the-minute newsbites, event snippets, links of interest, design trivia, and our exclusive photo of Rem Koolhaas in mid-ponder—it makes for smashing smartphone wallpaper.

In Which We Seek Your Design News

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times: “I could tell you this Big Design News, but then I’d have to kill you.” Now you can give us the scoop and skip the messy task of plotting murder, thanks to our handy “Anonymous Tips” box nestled in the menu bar at right, below the search box. Simply type in your news—design happenings, movements of the Revolving Door, scandalous revelations, a designer’s hidden talent, or any newsy, design-y morsel—and click “Send.” And for those not inclined to clandestine tipping, we’re still just an e-mail away.

Barry Friedman, Richard Dupont Among MAD Visionaries

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Less than a week stands between you and the 2014 MAD Ball, set for November 11 at NYC’s Pier Sixty, when the Museum of Arts and Design will celebrate not only the one-year anniversary of director Glenn Adamson’s invigorating arrival but also the recipients of its annual Visionaries! Awards. This year’s winners, chosen for their influential creations or leadership in art, craft, and design, are Michael Aram, whose eponymous company is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year; double-take-inducing artist Richard Dupont; gallerist and collector Barry Friedman; and Ligne Roset. Each will receive a new gilded-glass award created by artist and verre eglomisé pro Miriam Ellner, who was featured in MAD’s recent NYC Makers-themed Biennial. Also freshly commissioned for the MAD Ball are a series of live demonstrations by artists and makers including photographer Benjamin Fredrickson, ceramicist Zack Davis, and pastry chef Olivier Dessyn. Proceeds from the MAD Ball support the museum’s arts education programs.

Design Jobs: National Audubon Society, Duggal Visual Solutions, Meredith

This week, the National Audubon Society is hiring a graphic designer, while Duggal Visual Solutions is seeking a retoucher. Meredith needs an assistant art director for More, and Zinio is on the hunt for a graphic designer. Get the scoop on these openings and more below, and find additional just-posted gigs on Mediabistro.

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Find more great design jobs on the UnBeige job board. Looking to hire? Tap into our network of talented UnBeige pros and post a risk-free job listing. For real-time openings and employment news, follow @MBJobPost.

On the Art of the #Artselfie

artselfie“In deciding how a picture should look, in preferring one exposure to another, photographers are always imposing standards on their subjects,” wrote Susan Sontag in On Photography. “Although there is a sense in which the camera does indeed capture reality, not just interpret it, photographs are as much an interpretation of the world as paintings and drawings are.” But what about when the subject is the photographer, with his or her face jutting into the frame alongside a painting, drawing, or other work of art? Then you’ve entered the meta-interpretative world of the #artselfie. The keen cultural observers over at DIS Magazine peg the birth of this self-portrait-with-artwork phenomenon, now ubiquitous at most any museum or gallery exhibition, to 2012, “right as the recent photographic phenomenon known as the selfie reached its tipping point.” Having seized upon the #artselfie as an “aggregated mode of art-tourism and documentation” with a dedicated Tumblr, DIS teamed with Mathieu Cénac and David Desrimais‘s Jean Boîte éditions to publish a book full of them. Recently feted at Galerie Yvon Lambert in Paris, the volume includes an introduction by Douglas Coupland and a discussion between Swiss Institute director Simon Castets and DIS. Order a copy here and then take a photo of yourself reading it for an #artselfieselfie.

Quote of Note | Frank Gehry

frank g“I’ve always talked to artists about designing art museums. I’ve always heard the same thing, which is the opposite of what Glenn Lowry [of MoMA] and those people always push for: the white pristine box. I guess they don’t know any better. Most of the artists I know complain about that, and younger artists today are refusing to be in that white box—it’s imposing a ‘purity’ that is in fact intrusive. You can see that those galleries at MoMA have failed; they have to redo them now….I’ve been listening to artists for 40 years about what galleries they want. Every artist I know loved Bilbao. Every museum director I know hated Bilbao.”

Frank Gehry, in a recent interview with Jori Finkel for The Art Newspaper

Now Read This: Alphabetabum

alphaThe standard alphabet book takes a turn for the nostalgic—and slightly creepy—in Vladimir Radunsky and Chris Raschka‘s Alphabetabum, new from the New York Review Children’s Collection. The benevolent ghost of Edward Gorey hovers over the book’s faux-weathered pages, on which vintage photos of children (from Radunsky’s vast collection of antique black-and-white photographs) are joined by playfully alliterative names and rhymes penned by Raschka. Among the questions posed by the playful tome: Are these children our great-great-great grandparents? We knew “Excellent Edwin Eugene” looked familiar!

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Mark Your Calendar: Beautiful Users

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The countdown continues to the December 12th reopening of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Among the exhibitions that will welcome visitors to the freshly renovated Andrew Carnegie Mansion on Fifth Avenue, which has gained 60% more gallery space in the overhaul, is Beautiful Users. Located in the sparkling new first-floor “Design Process Galleries,” the show will explore the shift toward designs that are based on observations of human anatomy and behavior, from Henry Dreyfuss‘s “human factors” to hacking. Get a sneak peek on Friday, November 21, when curator Ellen Lupton visits New York’s 92nd Street Y (tickets here) to discuss the exhibition and how users are increasingly affecting the design of objects.

Mark Your Calendar: Passport to the Arts

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An installation view of Master Slave System (afterglow), an exhibition of the work of German artist Klaus Merkel that is on view through December 7 at Joe Sheftel Gallery.

The New Yorker‘s Passport to the Arts is back. The venerable magazine and its promotions department have organized a gallery crawl, evening cocktail party, and silent auction (to benefit Creative Time) on Saturday, November 8. A $55 ticket gets you a “limited-edition passport” that each of the 25 SoHo and Lower East Side galleries and venues on the self-guided tour will stamp with a replica of a featured work of art. And with a list of participating galleries that includes Joe Sheftel, Laurel Gitlen, and Invisible-Exports, this year’s Passport to the Arts promises to be quite a trip.

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