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A lot of designers don’t know this, but “stereotype” is originally a letterpress term. It is a single plate — a stereotype, capable of printing the recto and verso at the same time, rather than type setting individual metal movable glyphs. It’s inherently tied to a trade-off between speed and individual expression. A stereotype, as an abbreviated expression, then disallows for all the idiosyncrasies of how you position the letter forms, adjust the leading, or observe the subtle variations in different additions of printing.
If stereotype was invented for the purposes of expedient printing, then maybe we can resolve the expression of cultural idiosyncrasy through an intentional lens. Through a slowing down, we can create openings for marginalized voices, and build new linkages to a broader spectrum of people.
This means that designers are going to have to come up with something more seductive than the de facto dominant designs, which I think is an incredibly difficult task. It requires both bravery and brilliance.
This commitment to rock and remake our foundations of the world must be our constant study and this is why we can never talk of school being over but only of its constant rebeginning, that ongoing commencement that we gather here, en masse, to celebrate today. In the irreducible materiality of that spirit, given in how we live and die, and in how we think and feel, let’s tarry a while with the entanglement of art, school, protest, acknowledgment and the celebration of the mass.
“We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”
— Buckminster Fuller, New York Magazine, 1970