Robert L. Peters

18 November 2012

Yu Bingnan | A 50-year Retrospective

Beijing, China

In mid-October, the Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University hosted a 50-year retrospective exhibition featuring the work and distinguished career of my good friend (and former Icograda board colleague) Professor Yu Bingan. Widely known as “the godfather of Chinese type” and “a pioneer of visual communication design in China,” Bingnan has had an interesting and prolific career as both a designer and a design educator.

Originally from Shanghai, Bingnan moved to Wuxi at a young age to escape political turbulence. After initially attending Lu Xun Art Academy in Yan’an, he moved to Europe for six years and continued his studies at the Leipzig College of Graphic Design and Book Art, in what was then East Germany (it’s by dent of this that Bingnan and I can communicate in German, as I am practically illiterate in Mandarin).

Since 1962 he has been a lecturer at the Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University (the former Central Academy of Arts & Design) and from 1985 to 1990 he served director of the Book Art Department. Bingnan has served for decades as an international design juror for arts & design competitions, his works have won distinctive international and national prizes, and he has published numerous articles and books on design theory. Bingnan became the first Chinese member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI), he served as a vice president of Icograda (2001-2003), and he continues to represent Icograda in China as a special liaison and through active promotion of Chinese graphic design associations.

Read an interview with Professor Yu Bingnan here; view more images from the retrospective exhibition here.

Among the artifacts on display at the retrospective was this newspaper article from 2009, when the Icograda World Design Congress was held in Beijing. (Thanks to Sophia Shih for sending me the images for this post).

16 November 2012

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.

—Robert Louis Stevenson

15 November 2012

Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.

Charles Dickens

14 November 2012

It's being here now that's important. There's no past and there's no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can't relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don't know if there is one.

—George Harrison

13 November 2012

Help Modern Dog fight to protect their art (and the rights of other creators)!

Seattle, Washington

Modern Dog is a design firm in Seattle that was founded in 1987 by friends of mine, Robynne Raye and Michael Strassburger. In 2008, they published a very cool book entitled Modern Dog: 20 Years of Poster Art. For the end-papers of that book, they illustrated a bunch of “dogs we know” and another bunch of “dogs we don’t know” (clever, right?). The book was a relative success… then fast forward to 2011, when they heard from someone that had seen a Disney™-branded T-shirt for sale at a Target™ store that appeared to feature “their dogs!” Here’s a little video that explains what happened next (watch video).

So, Modern Dog did what you would expect proud and proper dog-owner-artists to do… they complained that their work (and the likenesses of their own dear pooches) had been stolen, and then filed a lawsuit “against the Target Corporation, The Walt Disney Company and a few of their subsidiaries who sold the T-shirts” as is explained in this Huffington Post article (read the article).

Thing is, it’s “allegedly” quite well known that Disney et al “allegedly” employ a very large number of lawyers to dissuade little folks like Modern Dog whose work has “allegedly” been ripped off from successfully suing the large corporations for exploitative profits and resulting damages — because hey, that could set a disturbing precedent of “creators” like Modern Dog actually being able to protect their very own creations(!).

In June of this year, Modern Dog felt they had no choice but to sell their dear Greenwood studio home (the most valuable thing they owned) to relieve some of the growing financial burden of the stretched-out legal proceedings. That’s a damn gutsy thing to do, to protect the rights of “the little guy.” But that wasn’t enough (law suits in the USA are damn expensive), so Modern Dog has also launched a crowd-funding effort (visit it here). As Christopher Simmons puts it succinctly in a piece he wrote, “If they win, we all win. Modern Dog’s stand against copyright infringement benefits all designers and anyone who makes a living by creating.”

So, now there’s just over two weeks left until the Friends of Modern Dog online fundraiser wraps up, and they’re still in need of $15,000. That’s where you and I come in. Please consider making a donation (even $5 helps, and it sends a very clear signal to Disney, Target, et al…). Please also share this story of these brave “little dogs”  and their loving caregivers who won’t back down from doing the right thing—even in the face of teeth-baring hegemonic corporate behemoths.

Thanks in advance!


Above, you see the end-papers of the book with the original doggie illustrations. Below, you can see the dogs that appear on the T-shirt… need more proof? Take a look at this comparative video.


11 November 2012

People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

—George Bernard Shaw

10 November 2012

A Creative Catharsis…

Dublin, Ireland

A week ago, Ireland’s creative community got together to release a lot of pent up anger and sadness through the medium of the A3 poster, all in aid of Temple Street Children’s Hospital. Ad creatives, designers, animators, directors, illustrators and more have taken time out to dress up their favourite “worst feedback from clients,” transforming quotes that would normally give you a twitch, into a diverse collection of posters.

Very cathartic, methinks. See more posters here.

(thanks to David Coates of Ion for the link)

9 November 2012

"When a man wants to murder a tiger…"

“When a man wants to murder a tiger he calls it sport:

when the tiger wants to murder him he calls it ferocity.

The distinction between Crime and Justice is no greater.”

George Bernard Shaw

8 November 2012

"The difference between Obama and Romney…"


This ad ran in China today… (perhaps inevitable, given the amount of scapegoating and slagging that Mr. Romney and the GOP have leveled at China in the past weeks and months).

Globalization is here to stay — circumspection is advised.

7 November 2012


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