Robert L. Peters

21 May 2009

Good 50×70,

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Amsterdam | Milano

Good 50×70 was created in 2007 as an independent, non-profit initiative with the the aims of promoting the value of social communication in the creative community, providing charities with a (free) database of communication tools, and inspiring the public via graphic design. 2009 represents the third year of this annual design contest involving posters that address (or confront) seven of the critical issues affecting today’s world. Read more here; view a gallery of the 210 short-listed finalists (selected by jury) here.

Some of my favorites this year: The Scream by Malgorzata Bedowsda, Poland; Guantánamo by Jose Rubio Malagón, Spain; Darkness (child labour) by Guowei Wu Wu, China; Extinction by Marco Valentini, Italy; HIV Positive by Giovanni Mastroeni, Italy. 


20 May 2009

A centenary salute | Uncle Jake

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Steinbach, Manitoba

My uncle Jacob Jacob Peters (shown above with his bride Margaret Klassen in August 1949) was born 100 years ago today in Russia, at the height of the Bolshevik revolution. ‘Uncle Jake’ passed on September 18th, 1979… time sure does fly.

(Thanks to cousin Herbert J. Peters [Uncle Jake’s oldest son], a lawyer at Aikins, MacAulay & Thorvaldson LLP, for the heads-up and some old photos; thanks to my brother Jim for the scanned wedding photo).


Girrrl power,

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Montreal, Québec

Netdiver has always made a special effort to recognize the work of female creators. “There are so many talented women blazing trails in design, sometimes it’s easy to forget that women are still severely underrepresented in many areas of the industry,” writes Liz Wolfe in a new online piece, describing Netdiver’s Powagirrrls gallery which “helps target this inequity through its focus on ‘women who rock the design scene…with more than pink design!’” See the the article by Liz here and more of Netdiver’s favorite female creators here. (At the  OFFF 2009 conference I attended in Portugal last week I was actually surprised to observe an almost equal split between male and female participants).

Images above: work by 25-year-old French illustrator/designer Mijn Schatje who “takes the conventions of wide-eyed doll art and elevates this genre to a whole new level of sophistication.”


19 May 2009

Iconic anniversary,

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Paris, France

Today marks the 120th anniversary of the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower, a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower is still the tallest building in Paris, and has been visited by more than 200 million people since its construction (making it the most visited paid monument in the world). The metal structure of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tonnes while the entire structure including non-metal components is approximately 10,000 tonnes.

Maintenance of the tower includes applying 50 to 60 tonnes of paint every seven years to protect it from rust. In order to maintain a uniform appearance to an observer on the ground, three separate colors of paint are used on the tower, with the darkest on the bottom and the lightest at the top. On occasion the colour of the paint is changed; the tower is currently painted a shade of brownish-grey.

Lots more information and tower trivia here


18 May 2009

Ephemera,

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What it is depends largely on the value one imbues it with (think memetics), often comes down to where you find it (context counts a lot), and how you choose to define its transitory relevance…

ephemera

1398, originally a medical term, from M.L. ephemera (febris) “(fever) lasting a day,” from fem. of ephemerus, from Gk. ephemeros “lasting only one day,” from epi “on” + hemerai, dat. of hemera “day…” Sense extended to short-lived insects and flowers; general sense of “transitory” is first attested c.1639. Ephemeral is from 1576. Ephemeris “table of astronomical calculations” is from 1551. (from Online Etymology Dictionary)

Images: a few bits of ephemera from a nice Flickr collection here. 


16 May 2009

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A valuable primer (not only) for legal beagles,

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Los Angeles, California

Matthew Butterick is a civil litigation attorney in Los Angeles. He runs a law office there, Butterick Law Corporation, where he does civil litigation and also advises artists, designers and musicians. Before becoming an attorney, Matthew got a degree in art from Harvard University, focusing on graphic design and typography. After college, he worked as a digital typeface designer. Then he started and ran a website development studio. Recently, Matthew created a remarkably informative online resource—Typography for Lawyers.

He explains, “Even though the legal profession depends heavily on writing, legal typography is often poor. Some blame lies with the strict typographic constraints that control certain legal documents (e.g. court rules regarding the format of pleadings). But the rest of the blame lies with lawyers. To be fair, I assume this is for lack of information, not lack of will. This website tries to fill that void. There are numerous guides on typography for generalists available but none specifically aimed at lawyers. So as one of the few typographers-turned-attorneys in America (yes, there are others) I figure that if I don’t do it, nobody will.”

Let’s face it—a plethora of publishing tools (ergo, much of the typographic control in contemporary documents and communications) are now in the hands of the laity (designers’ clients, much as this may grate on some in our profession). Typography for Lawyers goes a long way in offering solid advice to anyone not formally trained in graphic design or versed in the finer points of typographic communication. Congratulations, Matthew!

(thanks to Oliver Oike for the link)


15 May 2009

You reap what you sow,

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A cautionary message for the United States…

I know this is going to come across as preachy* and I apologize in advance. I’ve been saddened over the past two days at various news reports from our American neighbours, and I just can’t help but respond (rant warning)… It’s incomprehensible to me how such an allegedly “developed” nation as the U.S. can be so blind to basic rules of nature and the truisms of history—state it in whatever terms you like, but “you end up sleeping in the bed you make.” Three troubling traits, to wit…

1) Greed

The U.S. (Wall Street et al at the helm) has recently precipitated a global financial melt-down—we’re told that nearly half of the world’s wealth has disappeared within the past 18 months—affecting both its own hapless citizens as well as the rest of the globalized world. I’ve posted on greed before, so no need to blather on here… though my heart goes out to the auto workers being laid off in droves, to the tens of thousands who have been forced out of homes they can no longer afford, and to the would-be retirees who have lost their life savings and dreams for relaxation in their pensioned September years.

2). Violence

News out this week that Obama will be doubling the number of U.S. troops waging war in Afghanistan (big disappointment there, but I guess I was being naive in thinking that Bush’s departure would bring about a change in Washington’s long-standing, hegemonic approach to war-faring), and that he will be “fighting to prevent the release of photographs documenting abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan by United States military personnel, thereby reversing his earlier position on the issue” after commanders warned that the images “could set off a deadly backlash against American troops.” Duh! The Russians have a great saying that applies here methinks: “Lies have short legs.”—I’d suggest that the only way for the U.S. to purge itself of the scourge and hatred it has brought upon itself through the practice of illegal torture and degradation of its opponents is to finally come clean, rather than to continue with a policy of obfuscation and cover-up at the expense of transparency and accountability. (Just imagine the redemptive and conflict-healing effect that a contrite apology and change of ways from Washington could have on potential young jihadists).

Particularly troubling was the story I chanced across yesterday (here) regarding the Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, now training thousands of young people “in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence,” with a focus on weapon use—essentially educating impressionable teenagers to be armed vigilantes. Is this not akin to training child soldiers? Are there not more positive alternatives than teaching militarism? Perhaps learning about organic gardening, for example, or conflict resolution, or bicycle repair, or learning another language, or acquiring sustainable living skills?

3). Injustice

Another big disappointment today was hearing that the promised shut-down of Guantanamo Bay and the end of the military commission system (tribunals) that the Bush administration created to try “suspected terrorists” is also being forestalled by Obama. But perhaps this also shouldn’t come as a surprise—the U.S. imprisons more of its citizens by far than any other nation on earth (with only 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. boasts 25% of the world’s incarcerated population—very profibable business for the likes of Halliburton, mind you, see comments re: “Greed” above). A look at the U.N.’s statistics on national incarceration rates is telling—the U.S. locks up nearly 7 times as many folks per capita as Canada does, more than 10 times as many as Denmark, and over 20 times as many as India. Home of the brave, land of the free?

*My father was a pacifist pulpiter, so I come by this naturally—is that a valid excuse? He taught me things like “if you live by the sword, expect to die by the sword,” and “you can tell a tree by its fruit…”

Above images: U.S. Explorers (a Boy Scouts of America affiliate) being trained in militarism; see more here.


14 May 2009

Umbrellas, Social Justice & More

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New York City

Today is the opening reception and portfolio signing of friend Luba Lukova’s exhibition Umbrellas, Social Justice & More at La MaMa La Galleria. The exhibition presents a wide range of work including an installation with Luba’s critically acclaimed Social Justice poster portfolio. The Health Coverage poster, which is a part of the collection, was recently in a prestigious exhibit during the Inauguration of President Obama in Washington, DC. The La MaMa show will also feature Lukova’s prints, original drawings and 3-d objects.

“Internationally recognized, New York based Luba Lukova is regarded as one of the most distinctive image-makers working today. Whether by using an economy of line, color, and text to pinpoint essential themes of the human condition or to succinctly illustrate social commentary, her work is undeniably powerful and thought provoking. A recent review in The Boston Globe observes: “Luba Lukova’s posters and illustrations have punch, and they are laced with such feeling that they often merit a second look. Her work doesn’t wrestle with the classic riddles of high art. It is, as graphic art should be, strong and pithy but its messages are not always simple.” (Cate McQuaid, When graphic art becomes high art)

Lukova has won many awards including Grand Prix Savignac at the International Poster Salon, Paris, France; the Golden Pencil Award at the One Club, New York; and Honor Laureate at the International Poster Exhibition in Fort Collins, CO. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held at UNESCO, Paris; DDD Gallery, Osaka, Japan; and The Art Institute of Boston. She has received commissions for her work from the The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time, Adobe Systems, Sony Music, and Harvard University. Her evocative theatre posters have graced numerous stage productions in the US and Europe. Lukova’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Library of Congress, Washington, DC; and Bibliotheque Nationale de France. In 2009 publisher Clay & Gold will release Speaking with Images, a new book about her art. Later this month she will also receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from Lesley University.

Congratulations, Luba!

Images: six of the 12 posters from the Social Justice portfolio.


Señal de Diseño

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Buenos Aires, Argentina

If you’re into information design or environmental graphic design (and can understand Spanish), this is the book for you—an autobiographical record of “a life in design” by Ronald Shakespear—who categorizes himself as one of the “sirvientes de la gente” (people’s servants), obsessed with legibility, clarity, and the elegant utility of eficacious messaging in the urban landscape. Visit www.shakespearweb.com to see the work of Ronald and sons Lorenzo and Juan… congratulations, Gentlemen!


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