Robert L. Peters

17 November 2009

A reflection on non-representational art…


As the story goes…

A wealthy man commissioned Pablo Picasso to paint a portrait of his wife. Startled by the non-representational image on the final canvas, the woman’s husband complained to the artist, “This isn’t how she really looks.”

When asked by the great painter how she really looked, the man produced a photograph from his wallet. Returning the photograph, Pablo observed, “Small, isn’t she?”

+  +  +  +  +

Images by Picasso: Self Portrait, 1907; Jacqueline, 1954.

Julien Pacaud | nice collage…






Le Mans, France

Julien Pacaud is a French illustrator. In previous iterations, he was (allegedly) an astrophysicist, an international snooker champion, a hypnotist, and an Esperanto teacher. He hopes that he can someday find enough free time to devote himself to his real passion… time travel.

All I know, is that Julien does some great collage-based illustration… see more here.


15 November 2009

Full Spectrum Dominance


Washington, USA

Full-spectrum dominance is a military concept whereby a joint military structure achieves control over all elements of the battlespace using land, air, maritime, and space based assets. Full spectrum dominance includes the physical battlespace; air, surface, and sub-surface, as well as the electromagnetic spectrum and information space. Control implies that freedom of opposition force assets to exploit the battlespace is wholly constrained.

The United States military’s doctrine has espoused a strategic intent to be capable of achieving this state in a conflict, either alone or with allies, by defeating any adversary and controlling any situation across the range of military operations. The stated intent implies significant investment in a range of capabilities; dominant maneuver, precision engagement, focused logistics, and full-dimensional protection.

The United States armed forces boast over 800 military bases around the world, a “defense” budget greater than those of the rest of the world’s nations combined (and growing each year), as well as a nuclear arsenal large enough to blow up the world many times over. Coining a concept such as the unending War on Terrorism provides rationalized justification and opportunity for expeditionary warfare, feeding the aspirations of those with dreams of an American Empire, while at the same time entrenching the world’s viewpoint of the USA as a hegemonic aggressor.

My heart goes out to the many millions of American citizens (among them hundreds of good personal friends) who do not wish this to be so… and yet seem powerless to bring about change—in large part due to the controlling dominance of the profit-motivated corporate sector (who continue to capitalize on the concept that “war is good business”) backed by the support of a fear-ridden populace. Thanks to the entrenchment of the USA PATRIOT Act (the contrived acronym stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001) it seems doubtful that meaningful change will emerge any time soon…

Image: American Dick by Scott Reeder, 2007 (as seen in the current issue of Adbusters, Number 6, Volume 17, #86, November/December 2009)

14 November 2009

Bill Klingensmith | Drive Project…






New Orleans, Louisiana

I first met Bill Klingensmith at an FITC event in Toronto I was speaking at in early 2006. He had driven north from upstate New York, where he was teaching design at the Rochester Institute of Technology. I was intrigued by a project he described to me over the din of one of the evening parties: DriveProject, which involved shooting thousands of photos from his car window while on a trip across the USA. His original intent was to transform a long automobile journey into a powerful visual experience by condensing the collected images into an interactive presentation on the Internet.

Fast forward to August of the same year… for his next project phase, DriveProject’06 : New Orleans. Aided by advanced techniques and equipment, his goal was to drive through neighborhoods of New Orleans and somehow capture images that would reflect the current state of recovery efforts (or not) in the area one year after Hurricane Katrina. With a Nikon D2X mounted inside a rooftop carrier on his 2003 Subaru Forester and tethered to an Apple MacBook Pro, Bill recorded the trip using a Garmin eTrex Legend GPS device, collecting over eight thousand photographs of the city’s various neighborhoods in five days. Upon returning home, he placed the images into an interactive map on the Internet, allowing visitors to research and explore the city as it stood one year after the devastating storm. Read all about the project and navigate the visual results here.

Bill has since left the University and started his own studio in Rochester in order to “find greater meaning in life through working with his community and other underdogs who share his passion.” He also volunteers his time as president of the Upstate New York chapter of AIGA, and has a website at

Keep up the good work, Bill!

13 November 2009


Be careful, Jack… after all, it’s Friday the 13th

of real concern to triskaidekapaphobics and paraskevidekatriaphobics.

12 November 2009

Mehdi Saeedi… calligrapher extraordinaire.




Tehran, Iran

I was privileged recently to be moderator of a session at the 2009 Icograda World Design Congress in Beijing at which Mehdi Saeedi presented his work—though I had previously encountered his poster designs here and there in recent years, I must say I was blown away by the deeply profound cultural understanding he exhibited and shared in his talk—in addition to the aesthetic mastery, calligraphic skill, and refined design sense evident in the actual work. You can see more of this “young master’s” works here.

Keep up the fantastic work, Mehdi!

11 November 2009

Remembrance Day… and Pacifism


Winnipeg, Canada

This day of remembrance, gratitude, and reflection also seems like a suitable time to (re)consider pacifism… following is an excerpt drawn from a useful and more in-depth online posting, here.

+  +  +  +  +

Pacifism is the opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes or gaining advantage. Pacifism covers a spectrum of views ranging from the belief that international disputes can and should be peacefully resolved; to calls for the abolition of the institutions of the military and war; to opposition to any organization of society through governmental force (anarchist or libertarian pacifism); to rejection of the use of physical violence to obtain political, economic or social goals; to the obliteration of force except in cases where it is absolutely necessary to advance the cause of peace; to opposition to violence under any circumstance, including defense of self and others.

Pacifism may be based on moral principles (a deontological view) or pragmatism (a consequentialist view). Principled pacifism holds that at some point along the spectrum from war to interpersonal physical violence, such violence becomes morally wrong. Pragmatic pacifism holds that the costs of war and inter-personal violence are so substantial that better ways of resolving disputes must be found…

10 November 2009

War is not healthy…


Looking back… to 1967

Lorraine Schneider (1925-1972), a doctor’s wife, mother of four and print-maker, created one of the most emotionally charged posters of the Vietnam War era out of concern that her eldest son would be drafted into the army… But when the poster was issued in 1967, few could foresee that Schneider’s petition for peace would become the ubiquitous anti-war icon it was then or is today, more than 40 years later.

In 1967, Schneider entered a small print titled “Primer” to a miniature print show at Pratt Institute in New York. The only entry criterion was each submitted work could not exceed four square inches. With the war uppermost on her mind, Schneider made what she called her own “personal picket sign,” recalls her daughter Carol Schneider. And because she had to work in such a tiny format “It had to say something, something logical, something irrefutable and so true that no one in the world could say that it was not so,” explained Schneider in a 1972 address before the United Nations Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland. Since it was the “flower power” era, she drew a sunflower and surrounded it in roughly scrawled lettering the phrase “War is Not Healthy for Children and Other Living Things.”

“The flower was a very recognizable symbol of hope in the days of despair,” explains Carol… “and the childlike printing expressed the obvious truth dancing on the four branches, I think representing the four of us kids.”

When initially conceived, however, Schneider’s image was not intended as a placard, no less the logo for the movement that grew up around it. It was not until TV producer Barbara Avedon gathered together 15 middle-class women on February 8, 1967 to discuss ways to protest the war did Schneider’s image find its true and enduring purpose. As Avedon noted in a 1974 catalog of Schneider’s work: “The women were reluctant to go the bearded-sandaled youth or wild-eyed radical route, yet they were chomping at the bit to let the U.S. Congress know how enraged they were in the face of mounting body bags.”

The group decided to send 1,000 “Mother’s Day cards” to Washington as letters of protest. According to Avedon, the card said “in very ladylike fashion:”

For my Mother’s Day gift this year
I don’t want candy or flowers.
I want an end to killing.
We who have given life
must be dedicated to preserving it.
Please talk peace.

This group of ladylike ladies launched “Another Mother for Peace,” which eventually became the vanguard of a surging protest movement.

“My mom would have probably been more of an activist if she didn’t have four kids to care for,” adds Carol Schneider. “She really admired some of the loud and rebellious people of the ‘60s and encouraged us to listen to them.” Indeed images of civil rights demonstrations and abuse in the south had long haunted her, and the Schneider family frequently hosted the “Freedom Singers” before embarking on the freedom rides. As a consequence, Carol Schneider recalls that in 1964 “we had ‘kike’ and a swastika burned on our lawn by our patriotic neighbors. But we weren’t afraid.”

Some poster historians (including myself) have referred to “War is Not Healthy” as “amateur” by graphic design standards. Despite its ubiquity and timelessness it still lacked the rage, if not the polish, of other anti-war posters that were wrought with sardonic and satiric messages—Schneider’s work was like a piece of folk art. Yet Carol insists “She didn’t just scribble it out while waiting in line at the market. I have never heard of her referred to as an amateur, and feel it is an inappropriate and somewhat devaluing label. To me, that is like someone telling my father that he is an ‘amateur’ because he is an anesthesiologist, not a surgeon.” Although Schneider was not a trained graphic designer, she was a professional artist and this image, born of passion and conscience, transcended petty formal definitions. What’s more, rather than the typical protest art, “She saw her image as very positive and inclusive—after all it is hard to disagree with her words,” adds Carol Schneider.

The poster further posited a key philosophical idea Schneider proposed at the Geneva conference: “Man will learn to resolve his inevitable difference through non-military alternatives. But it is up to us, the artists, the people who work in media, to prepare the emotional soil for the last step out of the cave. We can create symbols of the new day and light the world with our hope and the Neanderthals that attempt to restrict our freedom of expression, that attempt to frighten us into silence, that give you only four square inches with which to cry out your anger—use it.”

“Another Mother for Peace” had such remarkable success in reaching across political and party lines and swaying popular opinion against the Vietnam War in large part because of the universal appeal of Schneider’s words and image. “Women who had never before even considered expressing their views or protesting wore the necklace and displayed the bumper sticker with it,” asserts Carol Schneider. “Rural farm wives and soldiers’ mothers, as well as veterans (there was a bumper sticker “Another Veteran for Peace”) found this statement true to their feelings, communicating the most basic argument against war.”

Schneider was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died in 1972 at the age of 47. “I am sure if she lived longer, her work would have continued to reflect her strong views for peace and social justice,” her daughter says proudly.

+  +  +  +  +

Excerpted from War Is Not Healthy: The True Story written by Steven Heller for the AIGA website, here. Learn more about Another Mother For Peace here.

9 November 2009

Die Mauer ist gefallen…


Berlin, East Germany

Quite the unbelievable moment (twenty years ago today) for those of us who grew up in a divided land… I still have a bag of broken bits of the Berlin Wall as evidence of its demise.


Julia Breckenreid illustrates…





Toronto, Canada

Julia’s work is both conceptual and intuitive… her illustrations have garnered recognition from awards annuals and associations including 3×3 Magazine, American Illustration, the Society of Illustrators (LA), Lürzer’s Archive and Taschen’s Illustration Now! Julia is also an educator, currently in her seventh year as an instructor at Sheridan College, where she explores Conceptual Process and Visual Language with her illustration students. Her first picture book, An Eye for Colour, the Story of Josef Albers (written by Natasha Wing) was published in September by Henry Holt.

See more of Julia’s work here

« Previous PageNext Page »

© 2002-