Emigre: Essays - Graphic Design in the Postmodern Era

My notes:

• modernism vs Modernism

Modernism with a capital “M” designates a style and ideology and that is not restricted to a specific historical moment or geographical location. On the other hand, modernism with a lowercase "m" means working in a way that is contemporary and innovative, regardless of what your particular stylistic or ideological bias may be. Modern (lowercase) designers are not necessarily Modernist (Capital), and the article has provided us with examples like Milton Glaser and Tadanori Yokoo, who work in contemporary context but don't follow the Modernist style.

• postmodernism as a new way of thinking about design

Initially people thought postmodernism is "an indulgence of design" because we were so used to having design as the invisible, crystal goblet that elevates the content but hides itself, but postmodernism actually proposed a new way of thinking and how designers present ourselves in our works. We don't need to hide ourselves behind our design and our designs can have expression and personality.

• the formal characteristics and references in Keedy Sans

Keedy Sans, unlike other typefaces that are systematically consistent and predictable, is very much the opposite. Keedy Sans willfully contracts the expectation of keeping everything logical and coherent. Keedy Sans was influenced by vernacular typography inlcuding the American highway Gothic typeface which Keedy used in their design work which they cut and pasted from a highway signage manual, and the “f” from the Fiat logo. Keedy wants to balance the two ends of the spectrum (full legibility and full illegibility), pushing the typeface as an in-between, a position which was not quite explored in the past.

• the role of the designer

Keedy thinks that graphic designers quickly grab onto new medium like the new internet, which effectively changed the way designers work and to an extent limiting designers being recognized for their efforts. Keedy also thinks that graphic designers are designing works that are more ephemeral, even they were acting as the bridge to the 21st century. Graphic designers can have the autonomy to set their own course, even if it means swimming against the current now and then, and they need to challenge themselves to think in a postmodernist way; graphic designers need to recognize their indebtedness to history and rigorously look into the history and older, more established cultural practices.

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