Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hand Drawn Bible Infuses the Word with Spirit

The Walters Museum in Baltimore is hosting an exhibit that
gives every graphic designer a reason to take heart.

Baltimore—This winter the Walters Art Museum will offer many programs in conjunction with the exhibition of The Saint John’s Bible: A Modern Vision through Medieval Methods. On view Feb. 15 through May 24, 2009, this exhibition will feature 44 pages from a contemporary, illuminated Bible set alongside approximately 49 manuscripts and rare books from the Walters’ permanent collection.
Sharky says...
The divine hand of man is made manifest in this modern illuminated version of the Catholic Bible. Luddites may now revel in this visual celebration of handwritten sacred verse. Coupled with post-modern reinvention of the visual iconography, the effort is as invigorating and soothing as a balm.

The exhibition is a lovingly documented view into the rigorous process followed in the the bible's assemblage. Commissioned in 2000 by The Saint John's University, Minnesota. The project was conceived as a bible for the new millennium. The accompanying film presentation is the best way to begin the journey into the world of liturgical manuscript illumination. The exacting details are spelled out and one realizes that this was high tech in the Middle Ages.

Besides being a presentation of the work from the new bible; it is an examination of the culture and tradition that surrounds illumination of sacred texts.

There is a fascinating description accompanying one spectacularly utilitarian ancient torah, explaining that the name of God could not be written but was respresented by a single dot of ink on the parchment.

That single dot could not be placed until the scribe had been immersed in a ritual cleansing bath. Once that lone dot was positioned a second ritual ablution was required.

A unique typeface was designed and the film details thought processes that went into the arrival of the visually crisp graceful expression of modern day type engineering.

The variety of sacred tests on display are engrossing and project the respect for awe of the the written word. Humanism is strongly projected through the diverse spiritual illuminations. The very tenacity of spirit needed on this arduous project is an affirmation of the potential value and goodness of human beings.

Go see this exhibit! It allows The Bible to be seen as the rich trove of poetic literature and beautiful imagery we all knew it was meant to be. Calling all designers, print or web to
revere the tradition that is the root of modern day publishing design.


© Copyright 2009 Guy Arceneaux All rights reserved

Tools from another time...

Recently, while discussing the topic-- Are there too many print designers and not enough web designers? some people left comments about "the old analog days".

I miss the lost craft of what we do, the handwork and tactile connection to our brain's processes. I do not miss pulling all-night paste up sessions. There were the frantic searches for a missing phrase that you X-acto cut from a waxed galley (picked up from the typesetter vendor). After searching high and low you would discover it pasted to your shoe.

I have a wealth of fond memories of how we used to work but also a marked decrease in the anxiety about meeting deadlines. If you are of a certain level of seniority you remember something from before the computer layout switch don't you? Share your comments here, I'd love to hear them. and so would others.
Good Old Days at an Agency in Baltimore
I will never forget the time my boss, in a hurry to visit the client, wanted to take the paste up board on which I was working furiously. After firmly telling him, with all due respect,

"It is not ready to be seen by the client."

He said, "It looks fine!"

He pulled the board off my green Borco-covered drafting table, and proceeded to shove the board (overlays and everything) through the hot wax machine!

As he bent down to guide the board through the waxer, his expensive Harve Bernard tie traveled with it and got caught. The hot waxy roller wheel kept moving until he was being pulled into the machine and he had a look of panic in his eyes.

Luckily in the old days we always had a beautifully sharp pair of shears around which I used to clip him free. The $150 tie was in shreds, covered with wax, and frankly was a sartorial disaster.

How he got the idea we put an entire board through a waxer—I'll never figure that out. I chuckled at him as he made his way out the studio door on his way to the meeting the still gooey waxed board in hand.
I also wondered how would he would explain the lack of corporate logos. That was the graphic element I always added last.

Well, account executives have to learn to dance around the tough questions. Probably the toughest would be what happened to your tie?


© Copyright 2009 Guy Arceneaux All rights reserved

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Are there too many print designers and not enough web designers?

I have had a tsunami of comments about this when I posted this on the Linked In AIGA discussion board. Feel free to post a comment here too!