Robert L. Peters

31 January 2009

After El Lissitzky…


Somewhere in Sweden

What goes around comes around, right? Henning Cedmar-Brandstedt kindly drew my attention to a sweet bit of serendiptous trivia today… it seems that in 1933, a mere three years after El Lissitzy designed his famous poster Russische Ausstellung 1929 (a copy of which I have hanging in my home and about which I posted last year here), the Swedish Socialist Party (Women’s League) created a valaffisch (election poster) which borrows directly the ‘merged heads’ (depicting gender equality) first used by El Lissitzky. The kicker? In a 2006 poll of Swedish union members the derivative poster was voted as “the best looking poster in Swedish history”—methinks El Lissitzky would be proud.

Thanks, Henning!

Worth 1000 words…







Paris, France

Sometimes you just don’t need captions. René Maltête (1930-2000) was a French “illustrative photographer,” poet, non-conformist, and pacifist who learned his craft in the école de la rue and practiced with a penchant for humor and a keen understanding of “the human condition.”

(Thanks to Guy Schockaert for introducing René to me).

30 January 2009

Emigre… flashback to 1984.


Berkeley, California

It seems hard to believe that 25 years have passed since Emigre (the magazine) arrived on the design scene… there’s a great collection of old essays and excerpts here. Takes one back…

The Places We Live






in slums, around the world

For the first time in history more people now live in cities than in rural areas. Of those urban dwellers, a third—approximately 1 billion—live in slums, ghettos, shantytowns, and favelas. (I’ve had the chance to see some of these first-hand in places such as Johannesburg, Mumbai, the outskirts of Sao Paulo—the memories are haunting and raise serious questions about the “great divides” within humankind and between us “haves” and “have-nots.”)

“The United Nations forecasts that the number of slum dwellers will double in the next 25 years. Urban slums are the fastest-growing human habitat. The UN defines slums as poor, overcrowded communities lacking adequate access to safe water and sanitation, public services, basic infrastructure, and quality housing. Slums exist outside the official city grid, built without architects or municipal maps, and are in a constant state of transition.”

Check out the telling documentary photographs and touching narratives of slum dwellers in The Places We Live, here (heart-wrenching images from Caracas, Venezuela; Nairobi, Kenya; Mumbai, India; and Jakarta, Indonesia).

(Thanks for the link, Gregor).

29 January 2009

Mimmo Cozzolino… resurfaced.





Melbourne, Australia

Well, well, well… my crazy old friend Mimmo Cozzolino broke radio silence today with the launch of a wicked new website, here. I first met Mimmo in Sydney a decade ago (the 1999 Icograda/ICSID/IFI World Congress), bent elbows with him a few times in shadowy bars after that, and then crossed paths (in the same building) for a period of time during my stint as Designer in Residence in the Faculty of Art & Design at Monash University in Melbourne. Of course I’d known of Mimmo long before I first met him—by dent of his seminal historic work on the book Symbols of Australia (which I later drew from liberally in the feature piece I wrote on design in Oz for Communication Arts magazine a few years back, 2.5 MB PDF here).

My recommendation? Visit Mimmo’s new site for an eclectic and inspirational experience (and to better understand the select images above) and to see what can happen when a talented career designer switches over to art photographer.

Good to know you’re still kicking it, mate! Cheers!

28 January 2009

awkward sermon contest…


Winnipeg, Canada

“The pupit is making a comeback,” with geez magazine’s launch of the Daringly Awkward Sermon Contest. The Contest “invites entries that explore the aspects of social change that make us squirm—things like privilege, right-wing relatives, the drunk stranger in the back pew, guilt feelings, or litter in the poor part of town. Constructing a more fair and compassionate world involves awkward people, pauses and topics, and we want to find the wisdom in the awkwardness.”

Maybe the key to social change and spiritual growth is found in stumbling, fumbling, oafish awkwardness? The geez pulpit is set up and awaits activists, anarchists, atheists and good old-fashioned Christians to step up and confront or comfort, pontificate or confess, urge or encourage.

In solidarity | Peggy Cady


Victoria, British Columbia

Anyone who knows Peggy Cady will have experienced how focused, inspiring, motivating, nurturing, and empowering this wonderful woman is—a shining light to those whose lives she enters and to the Canadian design community that she has become such an integral part of over the past decades (and has also lead—as GDC National President from 2004-2006). Well, Peggy’s fighting a new battle now, and friends and compadres from near and far are rallying in support. Join others in expressing your encouragement for her by literally or virtually “shaving your head” and submitting your bald image to a growing online gallery, Friends of Peggy.

27 January 2009

Top Climbing Knots


Winnipeg, Canada

Some people have asked about the booklet Top Climbing Knots that I wrote and illustrated for the Alpine Club of Canada in 2007. Intended as a primer to aid skill development (and as a handy pocket-sized refresher for occasional climbers), the booklet covers the Figure-8, Water Knot, Double Fisherman’s, Clove Hitch, Münter Hitch, Prussik, and Klemheist. Copies can be purchased from the Manitoba Section of the ACC, or contact me directly.




Stolberg (Rheinland, Kreis Aachen), Germany

Some beautiful new fonts here from Kai Oetzbach and Natascha Dell of (Thanks for the heads-up to Jan Krause in Köln—Kai was one of Jan’s design professors).

A nod to Heartfield…


Berlin, Germany

John Heartfield (Helmut Herzfeld) was a German artist whose politically charged photomontages were banned in his home country during the Nazi regime (John changed his name in part as a way to protest the rabid nationalism and anti-British sentiment of World War I)—during the Weimar period he became a member of the Berlin Dada group. He was rediscovered in the German Democratic Republic in the late 1950s… since then his activism and work has influenced generations of artists and graphic designers.

Image: The cross was not heavy enough; collage.

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